Using Department Protocols as Indicators of Emergent Organizational Reality in a Ground‐Level Administrative Subunit: A Modest but Important Basic Research Development

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Sage Publications


This study examines administrative protocols established by a ground‐level subunit in a complex organization during a 13‐year period. The protocols are identifiable, verifiable, and (for the questions examined in this study) objectively interpretable. The authors report tangible evidence that the subunit developed some of its own emergent organizational characteristics, consistent with predictions using a loose coupling model. Copresent, however, clear manifestations are also found of the subunit at certain times merely acting out unitary executive–style policy decisions that have been made at higher administrative levels in the organization.