When Bureaucracy Is Actually Helpful, According to Research
— January 3, 2018
By Beth Bechky & Daisy E. Chung
And yet excising these bureaucratic elements from organizations would be nearly impossible. Projects that involve complex technical work must be tracked and coordinated across departments; budgets must be accounted for; and costs must be kept in line. While some organizations do a better job than others of protecting their expert workers from the detrimental effects of documentation, schedules, expense accounting, and budget statements (the list could go on), managers can only do so much.
In our research, originally published in Administrative Science Quarterly, we compared two contrasting production settings: film sets and a semiconductor equipment manufacturing firm. In both situations we found plentiful evidence of bureaucracy. And in both situations employees managed to fulfill these bureaucratic expectations with a minimum of complaining or disillusionment. We find that in these organizations, the experts have figured out how to make bureaucracy work for them.
Read the full article as published by Harvard Business Review.
Beth Bechky is a Professor of Management and Organizations.