Adapting Global Administrative Reforms to Local Contexts within Developing Countries: Insights into the Blue Ocean Strategy

Published date01 November 2023
AuthorShaimaa Magued
Date01 November 2023
Subject MatterPerspectives
Administration & Society
2023, Vol. 55(10) 1893 –1910
© The Author(s) 2023
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00953997231198840
Adapting Global
Reforms to Local
Contexts within
Developing Countries:
Insights into the Blue
Ocean Strategy
Shaimaa Magued1
As a subfield of Public Administration that is primarily concerned with
improving performance within state institutions, administrative reform
fails to fulfill its goals in developing countries due to the ethnocentricity
of ready-made and replicable global strategies. Administrative reforms
as top-down models of development marginalize local implementers
who neither understand nor support the full adoption of the assigned
models. Drawing on the significance of an all-inclusive synergy among local
stakeholders for successful change, this study introduces the Blue Ocean
strategy as an innovative managerial approach reflecting the temporal
and spatial particularities of developing countries’ operational contexts.
This study builds a conceptual framework for reforming public and non-
profit sectors in developing countries in light of the guidelines of the Blue
Ocean strategy as the expression of local stakeholders’ goal of improving
organizational performance in compliance with existing opportunities and
challenges. In doing so, it examines how the managers and employees of
1Cairo University, Giza, Egypt
Corresponding Author:
Shaimaa Magued, Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University, al-Nahda
Square, Giza, 12613, Egypt.
1198840AAS0010.1177/00953997231198840Administration & SocietyMagued
1894 Administration & Society 55(10)
an Egyptian non-profit organization have benefited from the Blue Ocean
strategy in improving their NGO’s performance through the adoption of
effective strategic planning that restructured human resources functions
and boosted employees’ productivity. The author conducted seven open-
ended and semi-structured expert interviews with a selection of the NGO’s
working staff and two managers in order to depict how the Blue Ocean
strategy has enabled them to formulate and implement human resources
strategic management as a customized administrative reform conforming to
contextual exigencies.
strategic management, human resources’ strategic planning, Blue Ocean
strategy, administrative reforms, public and non-profit organizations
Governance, efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, and citizens’ satisfac-
tion have been foci for administrative reforms, establishing standardized
benchmarks for global performance starting from the 1980s onwards. Yet,
extensive studies have underlined the failure of these standards in steering
convergence of global public sector performance around unified values and
principles because of their ethnocentric foundations, top-down imposition,
marginalization of local implementers, and maladaptation to contextual par-
ticularities (Denhardt, 2000; Denhardt et al., 2013). The extensive applica-
tion of privatization, contracting-out, decentralization, and digitalization
across developing countries yielded corruptive practices and mediocre qual-
ity of services for citizens who remained unable to hold rulers accountable. In
light of structural, normative, and practical deficiencies within processes of
administrative reforms across developing countries, this study introduces a
theoretical construct for adapting administrative reforms to local specificities
by engaging local stakeholders in the formulation and implementation of ini-
tiatives for improving performance. Drawing inspiration from management
studies, the Blue Ocean strategy highlights an approach for appropriating
administrative reform initiatives and indigenizing its normative foundations,
means of implementation, and tools of evaluation.
Building on management scholarship, the Blue Ocean strategy refers to
unconventional means for locating new domains that companies, entrepre-
neurs, and investors have left untapped and unexplored toward recreating the
market, instigating demands, and standing out of competition (Mauborgne &
Kim, 2004). In contrast to the Red Ocean strategy’s reinvention of market

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