Productive resistance within the public sector: exploring organisational culture

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JournalPublic Organization Review
DateAccepted/In press - 9 Jan 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 1 Feb 2017
Early online date1/02/17
Original languageEnglish


The article examines how South Korean civil servants responded to the introduction of pay for performance. Drawing upon 31 in-depth interviews with career civil servants, it identifies what became known as 1/n, a form of ‘discreet resistance’ that emerged and evolved. The analytical framework allows productive resistance to be seen as ebbing and flowing during organisational change that sees institutionalisation, deinstitutionalisation and re-institutionalisation.

In understanding the cultural context of organisational resistance the contribution is three-fold. First, a nuanced definition and understanding of productive resistance. Second, it argues that productive resistance must be seen as part of a process that does not simply reflect ‘offer and counter-offer’ within the change management process. Thirdly, it identifies differences within groups and sub-cultures concerning commitment towards resistance and how these fissures contribute towards change as new interpretive schemes and justifications are presented in light of policy reformulations.

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© The Author(s) 2017

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