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Vertical and Horizontal Trust Networks in Bureaucracies: Evidence from the Third Reich

Frank Mixon, W. Charles Sawyer and Len Treviño

Constitutional Political Economy, 2004, vol. 15, issue 4, 381 pages

Abstract: In a seminal contribution to the literature on bureaucracy, Breton and Wintrobe (The Logic of Bureaucratic Conduct: An Economic Analysis of Competition, Exchange, and Efficiency in Private and Public Organization. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1982) develop a model wherein subordinates and superiors in a bureaucratic structure “trade” with each other to advance the objectives of the superiors. The success of such an organizational arrangement (for superiors) is based upon the development of “vertical trust networks” in a way that facilitates the promise of “informal payments” by superiors in return for “informal services” provided by their subordinates. Breton and Wintrobe [Journal of Political Economy 94 (1986) 905] also provide a theoretical application of their model by describing the Nazi bureaucracy as a conglomeration of competing agencies that zealously carried out the “Final Solution” to the “Jewish question.” As an extension, this note develops two compelling empirical examples of vertical and horizontal trust networks within the Nazi regime: Einsatzgruppen A’s (Special Action Detachments) attempt to liquidate all Lithuanian Jews after the German invasion of the U.S.S.R. in 1941 and the 20 July 1944 attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Keywords: bureaucracy theory; trust networks; economics of organization (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2004
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DOI: 10.1007/s10602-004-7769-4

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