Bureaucracy, Collegiality and Social Change
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Bureaucracy, Collegiality and Social Change

Redefining Organizations with Multilevel Relational Infrastructures

Emmanuel Lazega

This insightful book theorizes the contrast between two logics of organization: bureaucracy and collegiality. Based on this theory and employing a new methodology to transform our sociological understanding, Emmanuel Lazega sheds light on complex organizational phenomena that impact markets, political economy, social networks and social stratification.
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Chapter 2: Bureaucracy and collegiality co-constituting organizations as multilevel settings

Emmanuel Lazega


Chapter 2 theorizes multilevel activation of collective agency and exemplifies its intraorganizational “stratigraphy” as dynamic superpositions of bureaucratic and collegial strata in various combinations. Empirical examples of how both ideal types complement and co-constitute each other are provided by three organizational network studies among lawyers, among priests and among judges. The first looks at the bureaucratic rotation of peers in a law firm, and its consequences for management of opportunistic behavior. The second at “top-down collegiality”, a form of patronage-based bureaucratic cooptation, by a collegial oligarchy, of “collegial pockets” with different religious orientations, silencing normative controversies in a Catholic diocese. The third at cyclical dynamics – centralization, decentralization, recentralization – of advice networks increasing the social influence of vertical linchpins in normative controversies in a courthouse. Collegial pockets as social niches capable of oppositional solidarity and collective agency in joint regulatory conflicts are identified in executive suites, professional departments and workers’ trade unions at the bottom of the hierarchy. Intermediary, multilevel relational infrastructures are key in this activation when they synchronize activities between organizational strata driving each other’s evolution.

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