Introducing Technological Change in a Bureaucratic Structure

by Rae W. Archibald, Rosanne Hoffman

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A description of some problems encountered in attempting to introduce technological change into an urban quasi-military bureaucracy. Characteristics of such a bureaucracy are considerable conformity to rules with a low error probability; a significantly unbalanced reward structure with little difference between the lowest and the highest levels; advancement only after long acculturation and in-house training; and growing tension between the technical specialist and the bureaucrat. The approach to the problem was the creation of a joint task force, with both outside and inside personnel, in order to fully involve the organization. In terms of a spectacular technological or managerial breakthrough, the results were unsuccessful. The case study organization is still employing the same basic technology as that used three years ago and does not appear to be on the threshold of any great technological change. However, the task force approach was successful in adjusting the three primary constraints to change in bureaucracy: risk structures, reward structures, and the structure of the organization itself.

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