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Organizational and Individual response to hybridity in the public sector : A case study exploring the customer orientation of the Swedish Enforcement Authority


  • Henrik Edlund

Summary, in English

The aim of this study is to understand the response of public organizations and frontline public servants to the organizational hybridity that occurs when public organizations adopt market-inspired elements. To reach the aim I examine public sector customer orientation and how public organizations, as well as their employees, manage customer orientation, and the demands that the concept presents, alongside the demands traditionally presented to public organizations, and which motives and explanations that may be observed regarding how they manage these different demands. The study is conducted as a case study of the Swedish Enforcement Authority (SEA). The frontline public servants studied are the individuals employed at the frontline of the SEA’s enforcement department - the enforcement officers.

The organizational response to hybridity detected in the study is a procedure of emphasizing and downplaying different demands depending on context and topic. This way a public organization adopting market-inspired elements may avoid confrontations between competing demands, and between competing aspects of the demands of the marketinspired elements and the public setting, and may maintain an organizational identity as a functioning hybrid.

On the individual level, this study indicates two main responses to hybridity; frontline public servants may respond to hybridity with compliance; supported by a hybrid professional identity the frontline public servants may form the demands of the market-inspired elements to the public setting, allowing them to comply with both the market-related demands and the traditional public sector demands. However, most frontline public servants hold on to a professional identity strictly based on the traditional values of public administration. As a result, many frontline public servants perceive that market-derived demands conflict with their view on their work and their duties and they respond to hybridity by ignoring or even resisting the market-related demands.

Hence, the study shows that organizational hybridity in the public sector might appear easy when viewed from an organizational level, but more challenging when viewed from an individual level, as there are aspects of the hybridity that causes tensions among many of the individuals working at the frontline. Tensions that might be hidden under a calm organizational surface.

Publishing year





Lund Studies in Economics and Management



Document type



Lund University


  • Business Administration


  • Public Management
  • Organizational hybridity
  • Customer orientation
  • Institutional logics
  • NPM





  • ISBN: 978-91-8039-381-2
  • ISBN: 978-91-8039-382-9

Defence date

25 November 2022

Defence time


Defence place



  • Tom Karlsson (Associate Professor)