New article by Christof Brandtner in Organization Studies.

Although many contemporary organizations face institutional pressures to embrace open organizing principles, some defer or decline the call. We examine how existing bureaucratic practices shape organizations’ initial steps towards openness to explain variation in substantive openness in the practice of management. Scrutinizing the assumption that bureaucratic organizations operate behind closed doors, we study the turn to openness in a single metropolitan area with heterogeneous management practices and shared calls for greater transparency and inclusion. Econometric analyses paired with in-depth interviews reveal that more bureaucratic organizations first encountered such ideals of openness because they were quicker to use digital communication tools. How openly organizations are managed results from the repurposing of existing practices in pursuit of openness. The turn to openness can be understood as a transformation of existing bureaucratic management instead of de-novo adoption of new practices. Our study illuminates how bureaucratic management counterintuitively enables some organizations to become more open and offers support for repurposing as a mechanism of change in the transformation of an organizational field.


Christof Brandtner, Walter W. Powell, Aaron Horvath (2023). From iron cage to glass house: Repurposing of bureaucratic management and the turn to openness. Organization Studies.