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A behavioural microfoundation of public administration : do cognitive capabilities and social capital impact on dynamic capabilities in local governments ?

Abstract : Recently public administration, strategic management and organizational behaviour have found an intersection in behavioural microfoundation of dynamic capabilities. This thesis starts by defining this field and keywords of the research question. The aspects are treated through literature reviews and empirical analyses following a positivistic vision. The attention is on public organizations. After discussing the evolution of paradigms, such as New Public Management and Network Governance, the investigation is limited to local governments. Municipalities are characterized by proximity to external stakeholders and the possibility to apply strategic concepts, such as dynamic capabilities, which have been mainly a crucial factor in the private sec-tor. Two dynamic capabilities are relevant: innovation and ambidexterity. The thesis defines these constructs and studies their antecedents. In microfoundation, two major fields are cognitive capabilities, related to psychology, and social capital, connected to sociology. The study highlights knowledge-based relationships within and outside organizations with three elaborations: the development of a model of knowledge management, a review on internal relations, another review concerning external networking. The literature on individual cognitive capabili-ties is vast. The focus is on mindfulness and political skill. Both constructs are defined and links to social capital and dynamic capabilities are elaborated. Individual and multilevel hypotheses are developed for each construct. The following parts answer these hypotheses at the individual level empirically. The multilevel hypotheses are left at the theoretical side. They are useful for future research, having collected data also at the organizational level. The first step concerns a case study in a local government through social network analysis, assessing internal relation-ships through an ego-network data collection. This exploratory research shows links between internal social capital and perceived innovation. Secondly, a section discusses methodological choices and good practices to build a questionnaire. The debate oncommon method biases al-lows an evaluation of the limits and strengths of the survey. The questionnaire includes scales already validated with translation-back-translation. The ambidexterity scale was adapted for public organizations. For external networking, there is not a single scale used identically in academic articles. Empirical studies are analysed and various items related to different external stakeholders are evaluated with a team of scholars in public management and public servants. The survey is administered in Italian local governments. Data collection is significant: 551 municipal employees working in 50 municipalities answered the questionnaire. In particular, 484 employees in 46 municipalities filled in the part about ties with colleagues. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses evaluate the structures of measurements and allow to evaluate the reliability and validity of measurements. The microfoundation hypotheses of innovative behaviour and individual ambidexterity are tested statistically with OLS linear regression presented in a hierarchical way and with the option to control for nested effects at the level of municipalities. A second methodology, Hierarchical Linear Modelling confirms results. In order to validate these results and to analyse in-depth mediation hypotheses, a third methodology based on Structural Equation Modeling is conducted. The results confirm that cognitive capabilities, mindfulness and political skills, and social capital, internal and external, may have positive effects on individual dynamic capabilities in local governments. Results are discussed on the contribution that this thesis provides in methodological, managerial and theoretical terms.
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Luca Cosimi. A behavioural microfoundation of public administration : do cognitive capabilities and social capital impact on dynamic capabilities in local governments ?. Business administration. Université Côte d'Azur; Università degli studi (Pise, Italie), 2020. English. ⟨NNT : 2020COAZ0007⟩. ⟨tel-03216674⟩

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