ABSTRACT

This chapter explores the contextual landscape that is integral to understanding the unfolding dynamics of change at Copperdale City Council. It introduces the case study followed by an account of the research methodology and methods, which was ethnographic in orientation. The UK public sector was described over two decades ago based on research in the 1980s as a ‘turbulent environment’. In the UK, local government authorities are sites of enormous turbulence and transformation. Central government–driven initiatives have aspired to reduce bureaucracy and introduce ‘lean work reforms’. The research approach was ethnographic in intent as the concern was to understand how transformation ‘emerges as sets of meanings constructed and imputed to organisational events by various groups and interests in pursuit of their aims’. Public sector workers are therefore assumed to be lazy, feckless, untrustworthy, inefficient, dishonest souls lacking in dedication and commitment to the pupils, students, patients, public and travellers that they spend their lives serving.