The Unbureaucratic Personality

Public Administration Review, Vol. 67, No. 5, pp. 892-903, 2007

12 Pages Posted: 24 May 2009

See all articles by Leisha DeHart-Davis

Leisha DeHart-Davis

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill


After 60 years of scholarship on the rule-bound bureaucratic personality, this article turns attention to the unbureaucratic personality. Identified by a willingness to bend rules, the unbureaucratic personality is thought to be influenced by individual and workplace attributes. The individual attributes investigated in this article include nonconformity, risk propensity, and public service commitment, all of which are expected to stimulate the unbureaucratic personality. Workplace attributes include formalization and centralization, which are expected to suppress the unbureaucratic personality, and red tape, which is expected to trigger it. These hypotheses are tested using mail survey data collected from employees of four cities in a midwestern state. The results of ordered probit modeling of the data suggest that nonconformity and risk taking increase the unbureaucratic personality, as do red tape and centralized workplaces. By contrast, the unbureaucratic personality appears to be diminished by public service commitment and workplace formalization. The implications of these results for the normative aspects of rule bending are discussed.

Keywords: organizational rules, bureaucracy

Suggested Citation

DeHart-Davis, Leisha, The Unbureaucratic Personality. Public Administration Review, Vol. 67, No. 5, pp. 892-903, 2007 . Available at SSRN:

Leisha DeHart-Davis (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill ( email )

Chapel Hill, NC 27514
United States

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