Skip to Main Content

Copenhagen Business School logo

VELUX & POVI: Paper presentation by Dr. Bernardo Zacka & Dr. Pedro Monteiro

Date and time

Thursday 21. March 2019 at 13:00 to 16:00

Registration Deadline

Wednesday 20. March 2019 at 12:00


Kilen, K3.54, Kilevej 14a, 2000 Frederiksberg Kilen, K3.54
Kilevej 14a
2000 Frederiksberg

VELUX & POVI: Paper presentation by Dr. Bernardo Zacka & Dr. Pedro Monteiro

Event Description

VELUX and the POVI group at IOA invites you to a paper presentation by Dr. Bernardo Zacka, MIT and Dr. Pedro Monteiro, EMLYON:

“When the State meets the Street” and “The Enabling Roles of Bureaucracy in Collaboration across Expertise Domains".

Date: 21st March from 13.00-16.00

Welcome: Professor Anne Reff Pedersen
Introduction: Professor Paul Du Gay
13.15-14.00: Bernardo Zacka (MIT)
14.00-14.15: Q&A
14.15-14.30: Break
14.30-15.15: Pedro Monteiro (EMLYON)
15.15-15.30: Q&A
15.30-16.00: Discussion and Debate

Dr. Bernardo Zacka:

Moral agency at the front lines of public service


When citizens interact with the state, they encounter street-level bureaucrats—the welfare workers, police officers, counselors and educators responsible for implementing public policy and enforcing the law. By combining political theory with participant observation in a public service agency, I argue that street-level bureaucrats are caught in a troubling predicament. The proper implementation of public policy depends on their capacity to act as sensible moral agents, yet they must operate in a bureaucratic environment that tends to truncate that very moral agency.

Political theorists have offered a plethora of explanations as to why bureaucracy undermines moral agency, but these do not travel well to the street level. The literature in social psychology on coping mechanisms is more illuminating, and can help us understand how the pressures of everyday work gradually force street-level bureaucrats into a variety of reductive moral dispositions. I suggest that resisting the drift towards such dispositions call less for the development of a set of virtuous character traits than for the judicious deployment of a regime of everyday practices of the self, and the creation of an organizational culture sensitive to a plurality of competing normative considerations.


Bernardo Zacka is an assistant professor of political theory at MIT, and the author of When the State Meets the Street (Harvard University Press, 2017).

Dr. Pedro Monteiro:

aucratizing Knowledge, Work & Knowledge Work: How Formal Organization Structures and Regulates Work in Aeronautical Product Development


In this presentation, I explore the link between bureaucracy and knowledge work. More specifically, I show how a variety of formal organization mechanisms ‘bureaucratize’ what counts as knowledge, the functional work of specialists, and their work across expertise domains in aeronautical product development. While organization and management scholars have explored knowledge work and its related challenges considerably in terms of its enablers, barriers, conditions, and consequences, this literature has been for the most part indifferent to the formal organizational dimension in which — and through which — knowledge work may unfold. Conversely, here I show that the formal organization shapes expertise and the work of experts in non-negligible ways and unpack how bureaucratic organizing underpin horizontal work across expertise domains. I draw on empirical materials collected in 15 months of fieldwork in the engineering unit of a major aerospace firm, and an ethnographic sensitivity to study bureaucracy in its enactment. Overall, the brings two significant contributions to organizational scholarship. First, it showcases how bureaucracy may serve as an infrastructure for work across expertise domains thus challenging the idea that knowledge work happens despite bureaucracy and showing that it may occur because of it. Second, it advances a more dynamic understanding of bureaucracy that is more attentive to the locus and instruments through which it operates.


Pedro Monteiro is a post-doctoral fellow at emlyon business school, France. He is an ethnographer of work and organizations interested in bureaucracy and formal organizational structures and their implications for cross-expertise collaboration, learning, innovation, and knowledge work. Pedro is also the co-founder of the Talking About Organizations Podcast which focuses on ideas from classic organizational scholarship. He received the Grigor McClelland Award and the Louis Pondy Award for his doctoral work.

Event Location

Click to view the event location on Google Maps >