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The bureaucracy of murder: empirical evidence

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In detailing the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazi regime before and during the Second World War, Breton and Wintrobe (1986) Breton and Wintrobe describe the Nazi bureaucracy as a flexible microstructure that zealously carried out the "Final Solution" to the "Jewish question". In this model of bureaucracy, superiors accomplish their aims not by dictating rigid top-down orders to passive subordinates, but by allowing competition among parts of the bureaucracy and trading "informal services" for "informal payments" over time. The present research adds to the Breton-Wintrobe argument by presenting anecdotal/empirical evidence showing how the murder of 6 million Jews was carried out in a flexible organization, wherein subordinates devised creative solutions to the "Jewish question". Also provides evidence detailing how the quid pro quo operation resulted in dramatic payoffs for those subordinates proffering the most creative and/or efficient solutions.

Keywords: Bureaucracy; Trust

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2004

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