Institutionalizing Upstarts: The Demons of Domestication and the Benefits of Recalcitrance

Acta Politica, 2007, Vol. 42, pp. 40-57

Posted: 30 May 2013

See all articles by Arjen Boin

Arjen Boin

Utrecht School of Governance; Louisiana State University

Robert E. Goodin

Australian National University (ANU) - Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS)

Date Written: May 29, 2007

Abstract

Governments routinely create new organizations to deal with emerging or persistent problems. It is a real challenge for these ‘upstarts’ to build a robust organization that is considered legitimate by political stakeholders. The challenge is twofold: the new organization has to create the capacity to effectively and efficiently perform its formal mission, and it is has to do so without alienating patrons and clients. The upstart, thus, has to balance external and internal integrity. The public administration and political science literature tends to prioritize the former (responsiveness) over the latter, suggesting that too strong a focus on the organization’s structure and culture may violate the tenets of a healthy democracy. In this article, we reconsider this piece of conventional wisdom. We argue that it may be quite healthy — both for the organization and its environment — if the upstart develops some ‘recalcitrant’ features.

Keywords: public institutions, institutionalization, institutional recalcitrance, institutional design, bureaucratic autonomy

Suggested Citation

Boin, Arjen and Goodin, Robert E., Institutionalizing Upstarts: The Demons of Domestication and the Benefits of Recalcitrance (May 29, 2007). Acta Politica, 2007, Vol. 42, pp. 40-57, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2271743

Arjen Boin (Contact Author)

Utrecht School of Governance ( email )

Postbox 80145
Utrecht, 3508 TC
Netherlands

Louisiana State University ( email )

Baton Rouge, LA 70803
United States

Robert E. Goodin

Australian National University (ANU) - Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia
61 2 6125 5111 (Phone)

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