Managing the ‘digitalized’ public sector: the struggle between internal assets and external drivers of knowledge


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In a time increasingly defined by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity, and digital predominance (VUCAD), the public sector finds itself at the heart of a critical transformation. As the world navigates through a poly-crisis era—characterized by overlapping challenges such as economic downturns, pandemics, geopolitical instabilities, and acute energy shortages—the capacity of public sector organizations to anticipate, adapt, and respond to these multifaceted crises has never been more crucial.

In this context, digitalization has brought many new challenges for organizations and their organizational arrangements (e.g., workflow, teamwork, leadership styles, and organizational culture) (Schuster et al., 2020; Välikangas and Lewin, 2020; Palumbo, 2020; Tomo, 2023; Van der Wal, 2020), especially considering the growing use of emerging technologies and new forms of work (Palumbo, 2020; Tursunbayeva, 2018; Todisco et al., 2023). Smart working and other new forms of work represent a revolution in contemporary work environments, especially for the public sector, since they have been accompanied by the acceleration of previously overlooked, or not fully implemented, processes of digitalization (Todisco et al., 2023). As a result, there is nowadays a demand and an expectation for employees not only to be flexible and adaptable, but also to master such new modes of working in ways that make the organizations more productive than before. This expresses to some extent what Zygmunt Bauman (2000), called “liquid modernity”, aiming at releasing the brakes of deregulation, liberalization, flexibilization, and fluidity, marking the erosion of organizational boundaries as well as the breaking of time and space dimensions. 

These challenges necessitate a profound re-evaluation of organizational structures and processes, including workflows, teamwork dynamics, leadership models, cultural paradigms, and new human resources management capabilities.

It is, therefore, crucial to understand these challenges brought by this new context (new workplaces, practices, technologies) as well as the connected reforms and the effects they might have, after their introduction, on organizational and managerial practices, on the new forms of work and work environments at rise in the public sector, and on the need of balancing internal assets and external drivers of knowledge (e.g., consultants).

List of topic areas

  • Public management; technology; internal assets; new forms of work; digitalization

Guest Editors 

Andrea Tomo, University of Naples Federico II, Italy, [email protected]

Manuela Barreca, Università della Svizzera Italiana (USI), Switzerland, [email protected]

Carl Yngfalk, Stockholm University and Stockholm Center for Organizational Research (SCORE), Sweden, [email protected]

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Key deadlines

Opening date for manuscripts submissions (if agreed with publisher): 30/09/2024
Closing date for manuscripts submission: 15/01/2025