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Abstract

Since Max Weber's classic writings on bureaucracy, the relationship between professionalization and bureaucracy has been a central focus of organization theory and research (e.g., Parsons, 1947; Goulduer, 1954; Blauner, 1964; Blau, 1968, Meyer, 1968b; Blau and Schoenherr, 1971). Some research suggests that professionalization and bureaucratization are alternative or conflicting modes of organization (Udy, 1959 ; Stinchecombe, 1959; Litwak, 1961; Burns and Stalker, 1961; Thompson, 1961; Hall, 1963; Rage, 1965). While other research suggests that professionalization and bureaucratization are actually congruent because structural accommdation minimizes dissension between professionals and bureaucrats (e.g., Blau, 1968; Meyer, 1968b; Kirsch and Lengermann, 1972). However, the resolution of professional bureaucratic discord does not always occur and may vary depending on the status or legitimation of the profession. In the case of an emerging profession or semi-profession, like social work (Scott, 1969; Toren, 1969), this conflict may remain unresolved and produce alienation and work dissatisfaction. This research investigates the impact of bureaucratic constraint and professionalism on one aspect of alienation among social workers: powerlessness, or disaffection regarding one's participation in organizational decision-making.

This research treats powerlessness as an organizationally - specific phenomenon. With some exceptions (e.g., Blauner, 1964; Clark, 1959; Lefton, et.al., 1959; Segal, 1969), powerlessness has been dealt with in a societal context (Lystad, 1972). In most research, powerlessness (or any form of alienation) has been viewed as a generalized manifestation of person-toworld or person-to-society relations. Intraorganizational powerlessness has been of interest primarily because of its alleged ramifications beyond the organizational context in which it is generated. Seeman (1967) found little support for this "generalization hypothesis", and suggests that this is due to persons' propensity to segmentalize different spheres of life. In this vein, the present research treats powerlessness as an organizationallyspecific phenomenon, not as a diffuse aspect of a person's relation to his social world.

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