The Corrupt Bureaucracy

We are all overwhelmed with information. It is not possible to remember all, to use all this information to change our world view, our values and our behavior. To retain stability I think we all basically assume that everything we know is correct, that we know everything we need to know, that we do everything in the best possible way and that no one can hurt us because we know everything we need to know about our surroundings. We think we are omniscient, infallible and invulnerable. We are only able to change at a certain extent. We change if we want to or if we are forced.

In normal relations with others we can search information and use it to change ourselves or we can be forced by others to change ourselves.

If one person in a relationship is much more powerful than the other, the more powerful person often uses this power to resist change. He can then not be forced to change. He can also use his power to force others to change even if they are not wrong, don’t do anything wrong or do not act in a way that is dangerous. In my experience this is what managers often do. They force their world view on others. I see this as a kind of corruption on a personal relationship level. The manager is supposed to have normal relations with his subordinates in which both are prepared to change if they are wrong, but instead he misuses his power and forces his subordinates to treat him as if he was omniscient, infallible and invulnerable.

I use the term Corrupt Bureaucracies to describe organisations in which managers behave this way.

In a natural group, like a group of friends, the leader is usually leader because he has the support of powerful members of the group.

In a natural group challenges against the leader is common. If he loses the support of the group he is not a leader any more. If he is wrong, he has to change.

In the corrupt bureaucracy if you question the leaders omniscience, infallibility or invulnerability the leader uses his power to resist change.

Leaders in corrupt bureaucracies are afraid of losing their power, so when they recruit, they do not select the person who is best at doing the job, they select someone considerably less powerful than themselves. Someone who is younger, less intelligent, less experienced and/or less educated.

The result of this hiring strategy is that at the bottom of the hierarchy the employees have to be very much younger, less intelligent, less experienced and/or less educated than the chief executive officer. According to my experience, if the hierarchy is high, the recruits are seldom able to  even do the job. The incompetence requirements are also reflected in the wages. For the wages paid it is often not possible to get anyone able to do the job. To get the job done, a contractor has to be used.

The contractor is less of a threat to the manager than an employee, because, at least in Sweden, employees are hard to fire but contracts can normally be terminated on short notice.

Contractors are also supposed to have a narrow view on their specific task. They are not supposed to build relations and have opinions about things unrelated to this task. If they stay in their role they are not a threat to the manager.

When the subordinates are not allowed to voice any criticism of their manager it also means that the manager has a high degree of freedom. We often get real corruption.

Sourcing is done from the sources and at the prices which give the highest kickbacks into the managers private economy.

The manager recruits sons and daughters of his neighbors and friends. The subordinates have to spend considerable amounts of their time to teach them the job.

Sometimes even consultants are related to the manager and some of them have little experience too. Subordinates even have to spend time on teaching consultants the job.


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