By Zachary W. Oberfield
Bureaucrats are vital symbols of the governments that hire them. opposite to well known stereotypes, they verify a lot concerning the method coverage is eventually enacted and skilled by way of voters. whereas we all know greatly approximately bureaucrats and their activities, we all know little approximately their improvement. Are specific sorts of individuals interested in govt paintings, or are executive staff cast by way of the businesses they paintings in? positioned easily, are bureaucrats born, or are they made?
In Becoming Bureaucrats, Zachary W. Oberfield lines the trails of 2 units of public servants—police officials and welfare caseworkers—from their first day at the task during the finish in their moment 12 months. analyzing unique information derived from surveys and in-depth interviews, besides ethnographic observations from the author's yr of educating and paintings as a welfare caseworker, Becoming Bureaucrats charts how public-sector entrants advance their bureaucratic identities, motivations, and attitudes. starting from person tales to population-wide statistical research, Oberfield's learn complicates the long-standing cliché that bureaucracies churn out bureaucrats with mechanical potency. He demonstrates that entrants' bureaucratic personalities developed yet remained strongly tied to the perspectives, identities, and factors that they articulated on the outset in their carrier. As such, he argues that who bureaucrats turn into and, for that reason, how bureaucracies functionality, relies strongly on styles of self-selection and recruitment.
Becoming Bureaucrats not just enriches our theoretical knowing of bureaucratic habit but in addition presents sensible suggestion to elected officers and public managers on development responsive, liable workforces.
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Additional resources for Becoming Bureaucrats: Socialization at the Front Lines of Government Service
For example, Calvin, a black officer interviewed for this book, noted, “Actually being a police officer is almost like being a psychiatrist. Or having more than one job. Different aspects of it dealing with everyday people one day you may have to be a landlord, the next day you may have to be a child care provider, the next day you may be a plumber or an electrician or a mechanic. ” Another recurring theme in the police literature is emotional detachment (Bakker and Heuven 2006; Martin 1999; Muir 1977; Rubinstein 1973; Van Maanen 1974).
This seems like an area in which officers’ views may be tied to their identities and preorganizational experiences. Supporting this notion, my 22671 The Long View 47 interviews with experienced police revealed a mix of views about the causes of crime, poverty, and other social problems. As might be expected, this variation seemed connected to officers’ racial identities. For instance, Helen, a white woman, speculated that the high rates of minority poverty resulted from minorities’ unwillingness to work hard.
As might be expected, management also matters for organizational socialization. For example, the information provided by superiors to entrants appears to be one of the most important factors in shaping the success of entrant socialization (Ostroff and Kozlowski 1992; Saks and Ashforth 1997). Managers may be important due to their symbolic status. As official representatives of the organization, their words and actions are imbued with considerable symbolic authority. For example, by emphasizing what they will monitor, and how seriously they will do it, managers may communicate the organization’s values to newcomers (Riccucci et al.
Becoming Bureaucrats: Socialization at the Front Lines of Government Service by Zachary W. Oberfield