Purpose – modern bureaucracies are under reconstruction, bureaucracy being no longer “modern”; they are becoming “post” bureaucratic. Defining the post-bureaucratic organization as a hybrid form provides insight into the intrinsic difficulties involved in the refurbishment of large complex organizations. The purpose of this paper is to examine these difficulties empirically.design/methodology/approach – the paper describes the case of an australian public sector agency, subject to “corporatization” – a metamorphosis from a strictly public sector outlook to one that was imputedly more commercial. It focuses on the transition from personnel management to strategic hrm in the hr function.findings – a series of difficulties affected these changes: difficulties in inventing a new identity; differences in perception of that identity; organizational philosophy towards strategic hrm; unsuitability of extent networks; and identity conflicts. Two factors emerge as the core explanation for the difficulties encountered: the “stickiness of identity” and the difficulties associated with network development.originality/value – the paper outlines the difficulties experienced in the putative “refurbishment” of a large public sector agency as it made its way to “corporatization”.