Social Sciences

Bureaucratic Opposition. Challenging Abuses at the Workplace by Deena Weinstein

By Deena Weinstein

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Fairness does coincide with those bureaucratic norms which prescribe equal t r e a t m e n t "without regard to persons" and hiring and promotion on the basis only of c o m p e t e n c e . Hence, oppositions against policies which explicitly discriminate against one group of employees, such as women or minority group members, focus on both moral and formal abuses. Discriminatory policies are often in effect for long periods before they a r e judged to be unfair. Perception of their unfairness is often spurred by social changes external to the organization, such as the effects of the various liberation movements.

If this approach is rejected in favor of an empirical analysis, the problem of finding a starting point arises. J a m e s D. Thompson argues t h a t goals vary over t i m e . Herbert Simon states t h a t the goals "must be inferred from observation of the organization's decision-making processes," (38) and thus recognizes t h a t t h e r e may be several, possibly conflicting, goals. Charles Warriner explicitly rejects determination based on official s t a t e m e n t s of purpose: they are "fictions produced by an organization to account for, explain, or rationalize its existence to particular audiences rather than ...

Intelligence Agencies, New York: Penguin Books, 1976. (50) Ellis Cose, "The Unlearnable Lesson," Chicago Sun-Times, (November 24, 1975), 23. (51) Halperin, o£. , p. 4. (52) Doug Porter and Margaret Van Houten, "CIA as White-Collar Mafia: Marchetti Ungagged," Village Voice (June 16, 1975), 43. 3 The Conditions of Bureaucratic Opposition ... if someone took it upon himself to alter the disposition of things around him he ran the risk of losing his footing and falling t o destruction. - Franz Kafka, The Trial It is a fallacy born of optimism to believe a thing necessarily will be done, simply because it should be done.

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