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Home > Books & Journals > Journal Abstracts Last Updated: 14:23 03/09/2007
Journal Abstracts #222: January 13, 2006


Journal Name: Prometheus: Volume 23, Number 4, December 2005

Online ISSN: 0810-9028, Print ISSN: 1470-1030


The Internet, Organisational Change and Community Engagement: The Case of Birmingham City Council (pp367 - 384)
Ian Goodwin
This article examines the extent to which the implementation of Internet technology by Birmingham City Council (BCC) is facilitating new forms of engagement with the communities it serves. The case study presented reveals BCC to be an organisation in complex, conflict-ridden transition. Networked uses of Internet technologies have resulted in shifts being made towards a new form of 'citizen-facing' organisation. However older, more traditional forms of hierarchical command and control persist. These are being sustained, in part, by adaptive uses of the same technologies that facilitate networking. Ultimately, this situation limits the extent to which new forms of community engagement have been achieved.

Keywords: local government, local governance, community engagement, e-government, Internet, organisational change

Institutional Breakdown? An Exploratory Taxonomy of Australian University Failure (pp385 - 398)
David Murray and Brian Dollery
Australian higher education has undergone radical change aimed at transforming universities into commercial enterprises less dependent on public funding. Despite some significant successes, including dramatic increases in the numbers of domestic and international students, decreased Commonwealth subsidies, and more private sector finance, there are ominous indications that institutional failure is endemic, especially financial accountability. Drawing on various theories of institutional failure, this paper attempts to examine the causes of the current crisis. A fourfold taxonomy of Australian university failure is developed that identifies governance failure, accountability failure, quality failure, and information failure as the primary sources of tertiary education institutional breakdown.

Keywords: institutional failure, New Public Management, reform, university policy

Making Sense of Organizational Failure: The Marconi Debacle (pp399 - 420)
Jacqueline Kam
Organizational failure is usually explained with linear causality, attributed to either environmental change or managerial behavior. This paper attempts to capture the dynamic interplays of human actions in changing environments, taking into account both the environmental and behavioral factors. The breath-taking debacle of Marconi, a British telecommunications equipment supplier, is examined, revealing the complexities and interrelatedness of the environmental change and human actions, and the consequences for organizational performance. This research is intended to develop thinking about organizational failure, to broaden perspectives currently framed by conventional boundaries, and to encourage a new approach in making sense of failure. Failure may seem obvious and its understanding simple; in fact, failure is an elusive concept and the simplicity commonly attached to its understanding is dangerously deceptive.

Keywords: organizational failure, dynamics, environmental and behavioral factors, Marconi, telecommunications

An Ethno-linguistic Approach to the Role of Services in Knowledge Transfer: The Case of the Innovation Relay Centre of Southern Italy (pp437 - 458)
Francesco Quatraro
Given the recent resurgence of interest in the economics of language, this paper develops an original model addressing the issue of services role in knowledge transfer by merging economic literature regarding services and technology transfer with linguistic and semiotic theories. The heuristic virtues of the model are then tested by analyzing the case of the Innovation Relay Centre (IRC) of the Apulian region in Southern Italy. This choice was due both to the strong presence in the region of small and medium sized enterprises, and to the well known lack of social capital among local firms. The model has proved to be effective in explaining IRC activity. Moreover it has allowed for the identification of strengths and weaknesses which could be useful for the elaboration of future innovation policies.

Keywords: Apulian region, economics of language, Innovation Relay Centre, linguistic and semiotic theories, services, technology transfer

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