New Publication: COVID-19 and the Flexibility of the Bureaucratic Ethos
New Publication: COVID-19 and the Flexibility of the Bureaucratic Ethos (Part of the Organizational Behaviour in Healthcare book series (OBHC))
Associate Professor Kirstine Zinck Pedersen, Department of Organization (IOA), Copenhagen Business School (CBS)
Professor Paul du Gay, Department of Organization (IOA), Copenhagen Business School (CBS)
Bureaucracy is commonly associated with a lack of the responsiveness, flexibility and innovative capability deemed necessary for an organization to change rapidly when circumstances dictate. However, with the COVID-19 crisis, evidence is emerging that large professional bureaucracies, such as hospitals, have been able to change their organization, retrain their staff, establish new physical facilities, and introduce new guidelines, technologies and safety procedures with astonishing speed. While what has been termed ‘the customary view’ within the field of management and organization studies continues to claim that flexibility is a product of de-bureaucratization, we seek to investigate an alternative proposition: that within the Danish Healthcare system, rapid and flexible responses during the COVID-19 crisis were linked to classic bureaucratic features such as clear lines of command, explicit hierarchies, formalization, authority based on expertise and office-holding, and a focus on the duties, purposes and ethics of office (that engender a sense of ‘vocation’) as the driving force in making the reorganizations happen.
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