The metaphor of Kafkaesque bureaucracy has attracted the imagination of organization theorists for decades. While the critical and metaphorical approach offers vibrant insights about organizing, it has not been complemented by systematic empirical analysis. We take a step in that direction and conduct an inductive study of how people experience and deal with the Kafkaesque bureaucracy. We focus on the Kafkaesque organization as constructed in process and practice by those who experience its effects as citizens and clients. Data uncovered three major affordances of Kafkaesque bureaucracy: inactiveness, helplessness and meaninglessness. These combine in a mutually debilitating configuration that constitutes the Kafkaesque bureaucracy as an effortful everyday accomplishment.
- Kafkaesque organization
- vicious circle