Barbara Czarniawska
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Virtual red tape, or digital v. paper bureaucracy

How does digital bureaucracy compare to paper bureaucracy in terms of its ‘instrumental rationality‘, efficiency, and effectiveness, as judged by both the users and the officials? Further, how well does the digital bureaucracy fulfill the function of a framing device? After all, one of the main reasons for digitalizing public sector services was the information overload caused by the increased complexity of administrative processes. Did it happen? Not really. This chapter is not an attempt to plant the seed of doubt into the belief that virtual red tape is potentially an effective way of managing document overflow. Yet that belief can cause cognitive overflow to both the bureaucrats and their customers, and the way out of it is to synchronize the “manual” management of overflow with the digital one.

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Overwhelmed by overflows?

How people and organizations create and manage excess


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