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Blau, Dynamics of Bureaucracy, Ch 4

Blau, Dynamics of Bureaucracy, Ch 4

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48
I
The Dynamics
of
Bureaucracyrelationships
resulting
fromthe introduction
of
performance
records
had given
rise
to
an
organizational
need, and
a
further
,
change
in
social relationships met this
need.
In
the
process,
,,:
several
operating
practices
had been changed.
None
of
these
developments
constituted
a
return
to
an
earlier
state
of
equilibrium.
and
neither
did
thetransformations
within
groups
that
are
the
topic of
the next chapter.
IV
I
COMPETITION
AND
PRODUCTIVITY
"The
statistics,
which show
how
many interviews
and
how
many
placements each person
in
the section
did,
are
passed around
to
all interviewers.
Of
course,
you
look
at
them
and
see
how
you
compare
with
others.
This
creates
a
competitive
spirit,"
explained
an
interviewer
in Department
X.
The form thatthiscompetition
took
was
determined
by
the specific
work
situation.
It
differed in
the
federal
and
inthe
state
agency, and
variations existedeven
be
tween
the sections
of
Department
X.
In
the
federal
agency,
as
we
shall
learn
in
Part
II,
each officialwasassignedspecific
cases;
his
work on
them
was
independent
of
anything
his
co-workers
did.
Extensive
performance
records
provided the
major
basis
for ratings,
and
superiors
made invidiouscomparisons
freely, criticizing
the
record
of one
agent
by
contrast
ing
it
with
thoseof
others.
As
a
result.
federalagents competed
with one
another, inthemanner
in which
trackmen compete, eachtrying
to
outdistance the others. This
type
of
competition
differs
basically
from
that
between
salesmen trying
to
sell
the
same
productin the
same
territory.
The
success
of
anyone
salesman
may
inter
fere
with
the chances
for success
ofthe
others,
since
all
depend
for
their sales
on
the
same
market. Competing in this situation
in
volves
reaching
a
potential
customer
and
selling
him the productbefore
anybody
else
does.
The competition
between
interviewers
inthe
state
agency
assumed
this form.since the
ability
of
each
to
find
jobs for his
clients
depended
on
the
common, sectional
pool of
available job
openings.
Inherent in this competition
was
a
tendency
to monopolize job openings.
just as
competitionfor
sales
leads
to
attemptsto
monopolize
customers.
Such
a
tendency
could
not have
arisen
in
the competition
between
federal officials. since
their
performancewas
not dependent
on
commonand
limited
resources.
In
contrast
to
those
in
thefederal
agency.
superiors
inthe
state
agency emphasizedthat
statisticalrecordswere
not
used to
"compare interviewers
with
each other,
but
only with
standards."
How
ever,
fluctuations
in
the conditionsof
thelabor
market
made
it
impossible
to
establish
absolute standards
of
performance.
As
one
49
 
50
/
The
Dynamics
of
Bureaucracysuperior
explained, "In
each
month,
we look
at
the production, andthe
average
becomes the
standard."
Consequently,
interviewerswere indirectly
compared,
and
direct
comparisons
were,
in fact,
also
made.
The
fictionthat
records
were
notused
for comparativepurposes
was designedto
discouragecompetitiveefforts
tomonopo
lize
job openings by hiding
them from
others,
since this
type ofcompetition,
as
distinguished from that
which
prevailed
in the
federal
agency,
interfered
with
operations.
An
examination
of
the extent
of
such competitionand
itseffects
is
the
subject
of
this chapter.Competitive
Monopolization of Job Openings
There
wereseven
interviewers
in Section
A
and five in Section
B. 1
Within
each section,
every
interviewer
had
the
same
duties.The operatingprocedures
ofthe
two
sections
were similar,
but
not identical.
Requests for workers
were
received
over
the
tele
phone
throughout the
day.
Employers previously
served
by
a
cer
tain interviewer sometimes
asked
for
him by name.
In
all
other
cases
telephone
operators
distributed
requests
for
workers
in
a
givenoccupation
among
all interviewers
in the
appropriate
section.
The
order
forms
on
which job openings
were
describedwere
arbitrarily
(alphabetically)
classified
and
deposited
in five boxesin Section
A
and
in
two
boxes in Section
B.
The file
boxes of
Sec
tion
A
were located
on
the
desks
of
five
interviewers,
who
were
responsiblefor
keeping them in
order.
An
interviewer in thissection
found
some
orders
more
conveniently
accessible
than
others,
but
he had the
right
to
use,
and
did
use,
the
orders
in
any
of theboxes
in
his section.
The
two
boxesinSection
B
were
moved
fromdesk to desk
as
needed.
The
cards
of
clients
waiting to be
interviewed
in
each section
were arranged
in
order
of
their arrival.
Whenever
a
member
of
a
section
completed an
interview,
he
called
the next
client
in
line
to
hisdesk. After
ascertaining
the
applicant's qualifications,
he
searched
the
files for
a
suitable
job.
The
scarcity
bf
job openingswas
the major obstacle to
making many
placements.
Evaluation
on
the
basis
of
statistical
criteria
of
performance
induced
interviewers
to
compete
with one
another for
outstanding
placement
records.
This
competition
took
the
form
of
trying
to
uti-
Competition and
Productivity
/ 51
lize
job openings
before
anybody
else
could.
An
interviewer
could
maximize his placements
by
sending
a
marginally
qualified
client
to
a
job,
lest
the opening
beused
by
another
interviewer
before
he
could
find
a
fullyqualified
client,
or
bykeeping job
orders
onhis
desk,
thus
preventing
others
from discoveringtheminthe
file.
These
and
less
legitimate devices
were
used,
because
performance
rec
ords
made
interviewers
so
anxious to
make
many
placementsthatthey
were
willing
to
employ
illicit
means
to
do
so. One
interviewer
gave thefollowing
account
of
illegitimate competitive
practices:
2
When
you
take
anorder,
instead
of
putting
it
in
the
box,you
leave
it
on
your
desk.
There
was
so
much hiding
of
orders
under theblotterthat
we
used to
ask,
"Do
you
have
anythingunder yourrug?"
when
we looked
for
an
order.
You
might
leave
an
order
youtook on
the
desk,
or
you
might
leave
it
on
the desk
after
you
made
no
referral.
...
Or
youmight
take
an
order
only
partially;
you
write
the
firm's
name,and
a
few
things; the
others
you
remember.
And
you
leave
it
on
the
pad
lof
order
blanksl.
You
keep
on
doing
this, and
allthese
orders
are
not in
ffle
box.
You
can
do
somewrong filling
out.
For
instance, for
a
rather
low-salary
job,youfill out
"experiencerequired."
Nobody
can make
a
placement
on
thatexcept
you,
because
you
know
that
experience
isn't
required.Or, if there
are
several
o~enings
[on
one
orderl,
you
put
the
order
into
"referrals
([file
category forfiltedjob
openings]after
you
made
oneplacement.
You're
supposedto put
it
into
"referrals,"
but
stand
it
up,
so
that
the
others
can
see
it.
If
you
don't,
you
have
a
better
chance
of making the
next
place
ment
than somebody
else.
And
time and again
you
see
four,
fiveopenings
on
one
order
filled
by
the
same
person.
[Exami
nation
of
filesrevealedone
case
where
eight outofnine
open
ings
on
one
order
had been
filled
by
the same
interviewer.]
The
tendency
to
monopolizejob openings
forced
interviewers
to watch one
another's
movements,
not
only
if
they wanted
to
hide
orders,
but
also
in
order
to
prevent
others
from
doingso.
Incidentslike the
follOwing
were
frequent:
Mrs.
Adams had
an
order
in
her
hand,
while
another
one was
lying
on
her
desk.
Miss
Akers,
who
had
gone
through the file
box,
looked
at
the
order
on
the desk
over
Mrs. Adams' shoulder.
When
Mrs. Adams
started
to explain defensively,
"I'm
just
trying-,"
MissAkers interrupted
her,
"I'm
just
looking
at
it."
A
former
member
of Section
A
described the
atmosphere there
in
these words:They
are
so competitive,
an
order
never stays
in
the
box.
Most of the
time,
they
leavethe
order
on
their
desk.
and
fill
it

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