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2012 Government Bureaucracy Survey


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  • 1. 2012 Government Bureaucracy Survey David M. Paschane, Ph.D. Affiliations: Associate Research Professor University of Maryland (UMBC) Organizational Architect Aplin Director of Strategic Technology Initiatives U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Washington, DC: 202-256-5763,
  • 2. AbstractThe purpose of the 2012 Government Bureaucracy Survey is to baseline a means of examiningthe effect of organizational structure on employees’ on-task performance. The theory for thisresearch is Performance Leadership, which suggests that goals and means of converting heavybureaucracies into light enterprises is in how the organizational structure is designed to affectindividual awareness and discretion in performance enhancements. The theory builds on eightyears of participatory research in one of the world’s largest bureaucracies. An assertion of thetheory is that unnecessary control, or the perception of control, may be the root of structuralproblems1 in organizations; from which, I call the process of pursuing unnecessary control,bureaucratization.2 The survey begins research into world-wide perspectives amonggovernment employees.Research on Performance LeadershipThe genesis of the performance leadership theory is a set of studies on healthcare systems inthe United States between 1998 and 20023. These studies indicated that systemicbureaucratization may account for unwanted consequences in individuals.The research on bureaucratization continued as participatory research within one of the largestFederal agency in the U.S. government, from 2004 to 2012. The scope included cross-agency andinter-agency observations. The focus has been on how executive leaders of business functions,technology, and policy impact the mission of the agency.Participatory analyses included operational research, program reviews, and comprehensiveoutcome studies. Developmental services included organizational facilitation, performancemonitoring, and strategic planning. The analyses and services provided opportunities to test therobustness of theory and methods presented herein.The theory of performance leadership requires testing within a variety of organizationalsettings, and with attention on the developmental aspects of individuals, given changes inorganizational structures.A baseline survey analysis was conducted from January 26 to February 8, 2012 to assess trendsin bureaucratization perceptions that may appear in government agencies worldwide. Of the546 participants, 84% worked in government the entire 3-year period pertaining to thequestions. The following are summaries of the data analysesRespondents identified themselves from 53 countries, with 70% from the United States. Amajority were career employees, as opposed to being contacted staff (7%) or a politicalappointee (4%). Most indicated they were working at the national or federal levels of1 My assertion is based on observations from my national system study of bureaucratic effects and eight years ofparticipatory research in the second largest government bureaucracy in the United States, as an employee, andwith responsibilities that include working with initiatives that crossed other government agencies.2 Paschane DM. (2003). A Theoretical Framework for the Medical Geography of Health Service Politics.Dissertation, University of Washington.3 These include several studies I either lead or participated in through the University of Washington.© 2012, Paschane 2
  • 3. government (58%), with 22% working at the local level, and 20% at the state or providence level.Their roles in the organizational structures were distributed primarily in upper management,with 19% as executives and 39% in mid-level management, 16% in early-career management,and 26% in pre-management.When asked about interactions with the work environment, only 23% of respondents indicatedthat their time for on-task concentration exceeded 70% of the workday. This represents asignificant negative impact on potential productivity. When asked about concentration changesin response to changes in organizational conditions, 37% indicated concentration has gottenworse, and 18% indicated it has improved.The respondents’ consistently indicate that they have good visibility into the causes ofperformance across managerial functions (i.e., workflow, workforce, policy, change, andcommunication); however, they tend to have low levels of discretion for improving suchconditions. According to the respondents, change in the organizational conditions has notchanged their detection of causes of performance (57%), with 28% indicating it has improvedsuch detection.Respondents indicated that changes in their organizational conditions have increased costs(30%) or made no change to costs (37%), and reduced the human potential among employees(47%) or made no change in such potential (32%).Of particular interest are the 386 respondents indicating that interactions with theorganizational structure results in poor on-task concentration (less than a 70% portion of theirday in on-task concentration). Within this group, 39% were unsatisfied with the organization’stechnology, 18% were unsatisfied with the schedule of work, and 17% were unsatisfied with thelocation of work. Within the same group, 54% engaged in off-task stimulation in excess of 10%of their workday, and 28% engaged in administrative tasks in excess of 10% of their workday.A multivariate logistic regression model was fitted to the data for Concentration (>70% vs. <70%of day in on-task concentration) to determine the coefficient estimates for 18 variablestheorized to contribute to this basic employee-level condition in performance (see table below).The independent variables included two interactions with the work environment, satisfactionwith three work conditions, ten perceptions on visibility of and discretion in managerialfunctions, and three indications of structural change affecting employee performance. Countryof government employment was include to control for possible differences between themajority respondents (70% USA) and the large portion of international respondents. Cases withmissing responses are dropped from the model.The regression model presents a baseline understanding of the possible interactions ofemployees to their respective organizational structures, base on their perceptions of suchstructural elements.Consistent with the basis of the performance leadership theory, employees appear to manageon-task concentration with a great deal of effect by the interactions that compete for theirattention, namely administrative tasks and stimulation of their interests. Statistically significantresults indicated that respondents were almost 7 times more likely to concentrate on tasks(>70%) if the administrative interactions were below 10% of their workday time, and nearly 4© 2012, Paschane 3
  • 4. times more likely to concentrate if stimulation was below 10% of workday time. Furthermore,they were almost 6 times more likely to concentrate if they are satisfied with the schedules ofwork (e.g., shifts, periods, and days of week). Logistic Regression Model for On-Task Concentration Over 70% of Workday (n=417)Perceptions of Work Structure β SE p OR CIConstant -5.22 0.93USA Respondent (versus non-USA) -0.00 0.33 0.9 0.99 0.52, 1.92Environment Interactions Administration < 10% of Workday 1.89 0.30 <0.01 6.62 3.65, 12.01 Stimulation <10% of Workday 1.37 0.33 <0.01 3.93 2.01, 7.51Satisfied with Work Conditions Satisfying Schedule 1.71 0.67 0.01 5.53 1.48, 20.70 Satisfying Location -0.80 0.38 0.03 0.45 0.21, 0.94 Satisfying Technology 0.12 0.33 0.71 1.13 0.59, 2.17Structure of Managerial Functions Visible Workflow 0.07 0.43 0.88 1.07 0.46, 2.49 Workflow Discretion -0.04 0.41 0.93 0.96 0.43, 2.17 Visible Workforce -0.24 0.42 0.57 0.79 0.35, 1.79 Workforce Discretion 0.68 0.43 0.11 1.97 0.86, 4.56 Visible Policy 0.52 0.39 0.18 1.68 0.79, 3.60 Policy Discretion 0.09 0.46 0.85 1.09 0.45, 2.69 Visible Adaptability (Change) -0.15 0.38 0.70 0.86 0.41, 1.82 Adaptability (Change) Discretion 0.40 0.42 0.34 1.50 0.65, 3.43 Visible Communication -0.71 0.40 0.08 0.49 0.22, 1.09 Communication Discretion -0.04 0.45 0.93 0.96 0.40, 2.34Structural Change Effects Desirable Visibility 0.40 0.61 0.51 1.50 0.45, 4.96 Desirable Discretion 0.49 0.50 0.33 1.64 0.61, 4.40 Desirable Human Potential 0.21 0.35 0.54 1.24 0.62, 2.47Note: Independent statistical operations were performed on SAS and by Dr. Robin Streeter.Other variables indicated a desirable structural effect is associated with work concentration,though not statistically significant in this model. These include satisfied with technology(OR=1.13), discretion in affecting the organization’s workforce (OR=1.97), visible organizationalpolicy (OR=1.68), and discretion in affecting change or adaptability of the organization(OR=1.50). Likewise, structural changes to achieve desirable visibility (OR=150), discretion© 2012, Paschane 4
  • 5. (OR=1.64), and human potential (OR=1.24) were associated with greater concentration.Visible communications in organizational management is a variable that was close to beingstatistically significant and predictive of a relationship that seems inconsistent with the theory.Respondents inculcated they were half as likely to concentrate if communications was visible,which may be a sign that while management communicates a lot, the effect is counter-productive with regard to achieving on-task concentration greater than 70% of a workday.These preliminary results help explain possible relationships between performance leadershipand structural development, specifically how these relationships affect work concentration.While perception data is useful in exploring the possible interactions between employees andorganizational structure, the patterns indicate that bureaucratization requires analyses that areoperationally independent from employee perceptions. Future analyses may examinecomparative bureaucratization in a federal agency (i.e., Department of Veterans Affairs) andacross U.S. federal agencies, and how these contrast from bureaucratization effects in privateorganizations.Within governments there are notable challenges to establishing analytic methods for bothorganizational performance and performance leadership, as prescribed herein. However, in theU.S., the Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-352)4requires all U.S. federal programs to report their performance to a common database for cross-agency analytics. This is an opportunity for studying bureaucratization and the potential ofperformance leadership across a variety of organizational structures.These results will be presented at the 2012 Workshop on Information and OrganizationalArchitecture, at the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (Belgium), andlead by the Interdisciplinary Center for Organizational Architecture (Denmark). The paper willprescribe means of converting organizational structures from heavy bureaucracies to lightenterprises, using the Performance Architectural Science Systems (PASS) discipline. Examples ofapplying PASS are used to illustrate the integration of operational analytics, advanced media,and agile technology into Performance Architectures; as well as, the integration of employeetraining, management communication, and executive guidance into Performance Portfolios.4 See an analysis by the Government Accountability Office at© 2012, Paschane 5