Achieving Value & Stability: The Institutionalization of the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
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With a budget of $2.25 million and 100 employees at its central headquarters in Washington D.C., the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) opened its doors for operation in May of 1965 to oversee the implementation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Although the EEOC began with the charge of enforcing federal laws designed to end workforce discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion and national origin, it underwent significant increases in its size and scope. By 2011, the EEOC’s budget had increased to $385.3 million, its workforce grew to 2,577 employees in over 53 field offices, and it had established work-share agreements with 64 Tribal Employment Rights Organizations (TEROs) and 94 Fair Employment Practice Agencies (FEPAs). The scope of the EEOC also expanded to include oversight over federal EEO laws addressing employment discrimination against the elderly, compensation discrimination, disability discrimination, and genetic information discrimination. Today, the EEOC is responsible for coordinating all federal EEO regulations, practices, and policies; interpreting employment discrimination laws and monitoring federal sector employment discrimination program; providing funding and support to FEPAs; and sponsoring outreach and technical assistance. Despite the transformation of the EEOC from a legislative cartel to a fully entrenched institution, scholars have neglected to provide a broad understanding regarding how bureaucracies transform from organizations that handle specific tasks for clients to institutions with size, stability, rules, and value beyond the tasks at hand. To determine whether bureaucracies have the potential to emerge as institutions, this dissertation provides a longitudinal study of the emergence and evolution of the EEOC. Through an examination of multiple variables spanning from 1965 to 2010, the institutionalization of the Commission is examined along five dimensions: adaptability, complexity, professionalization, autonomy, and coherence. Findings reveal that, to emerge as institutions, federal bureaucracies must demonstrate an ability to deal with environmental challenges and age, develop complex hierarchical and functional structures, groom a professionalized staff, articulate interest distinguishable from external forces, and foster consensus around their functional boundaries and procedures used to address disputes that arise within their jurisdictions.
SubjectEqual Employment Opportunity Commission
Equal Employment Opportunity Policy
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act
Bureaucratic Institutionalization Model