Scarcity and environmental stress in public organizations: A Conjectural Essay

Barry Bozeman, E. Allen Slusher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Scopus citations


Some observers, including many “doomsday” futurists, have contended that a pre dominant characteristic of future society will be extreme scarcity. Viewing this as sumption of extreme scarcity as plausible (though not necessarily most probable), this conjectural essay considers some of the possible effects of sustained scarcity, particu larly sharp declines in public spending and public employment, on public organization behavior. The focus is on the effects of scarcity on four types of strategic choices in public organizations: domain selection, development and deployment of technology, organization structure, and organization process. Arguments are developed that public organizations facing sustained scarcity could be expected to: constram their domain definition, allow domarn selection to dictate technology, seek clientele suited to existing technologies, and, m general, take actions that will ensure that existing technologies are employed at capacity. Further, we argue that narrow efficiency criteria will become paramount and will give rise to more formal, centralized, and rigid organization structures and a habituation of organizational responses to environ mental change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-355
Number of pages21
JournalAdministration and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Marketing
  • Public Administration

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