Fuel to the fire? The sensemaking of volunteer firefighters and public managers in the context of public reform

Leonore Van den Ende, Ronald van Steden, Kees Boersma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to advance ongoing debates on the organizational impact of wider public sector reform in the field of organizational change management by presenting an analysis the regionalization of the fire service in the Netherlands. How regionalization has impacted the work floor of local fire stations, where the workplace majority comprises volunteers, requires further empirical investigation. Design/methodology/approach: The authors apply an interpretive approach and qualitative methodology to study how volunteer firefighters and public management make sense of public reform and the ensuing organizational change. Findings: Findings indicate that while the fire service has professionalized, notable tensions have emerged between public management and volunteers, the regional and local level of fire service and between professionalism and volunteerism which are problematised in the paper. Originality/value: The originality of the paper is found in the insight it provides in the sensemaking of volunteer firefighters and public managers of diverse of change regions and fire stations during the regionalization process by applying an emergent perspective to change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-252
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Volume33
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Organizational change
  • Public reform
  • Sensemaking
  • Volunteers

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