Why do we need strategy in public management? Institutional logics as strategic resources in public management


  • Christian Tang Lystbaek Aarhus University
  • Jens Holmgrem Aalborg University
  • Ole Friis Aalborg University


Strategy has become an essential of public management. Research shows that there are many different approaches to this; however, research has not explored the strategic resources that different approaches provide. This paper contributes to this field of research by applying neo-institutional theory and paradox theory to strategy in public management.

Institutional logics form socially constructed patterns of cultural and material practices by which managers define interests and asks and provide meaning to their daily activity. Institutional logics thus accommodate strategic behaviour when managers – and other strategic actors – respond to institutional pressures and expectations.

We show that Public administration, Professional Leadership, New Public Management and New Public Governance offer different configurations of strategy in the public sector, i.e. different reasons and resources for doing strategy, which provide public management with different strategic foci, goals and practices. To explore strategy in public management, the institutional logics should be analysed together with an emphasis on the dynamic interaction between them in order to understand how the strategic resources of a particular institutional logic are applied and legitimized as responses to the flaws of other institutional logics.

Author Biographies

Christian Tang Lystbaek, Aarhus University

Department of Business Development and Technology, Associate Professor

Jens Holmgrem, Aalborg University

Aalborg University Business School, Associate Professor, Head of Section, PhD. Coordinator

Ole Friis, Aalborg University

Alborg University Business School, Associate Professor




How to Cite

Lystbaek, C. T., Holmgrem, J., & Friis, O. (2021). Why do we need strategy in public management? Institutional logics as strategic resources in public management. International Public Management Review, 21(2), 1–17. Retrieved from https://ipmr.net/index.php/ipmr/article/view/423