Institutional Capture

Fancy name.  Simple concept.  In large organizations, there is a tendancy for employees to become focused on their own personal agendas, and forget about the objectives of the organization.

Of the various corporate diseases, this one is pervasive.  In fact, it is so widely recognized that companies design systems to try to align personal agendas and corporate strategies.  Actions like: accounting segregation of duties, incentive systems craftily designed to produce specific behaviors, corporate ethics officers and whistleblower policies, and many other similar things.

And even with all the effort, the systems are still inadequate.  Why?  They buck human nature.

As organizational size increases, the understanding of the corporations objectives and interests become harder for employees to grasp.  That is at least a part of Institutional Capture.  But it isn't all of it.  Large organizations are faceless and impersonal, so employees begin to feel more like they are betraying a monolithic creature rather than individual people.  The investors and their personal interests (and the injuries they suffer) become distant.

The other big factor is the individual's ability to rationalize their behaviors.  In most cases of Institutional Capture, the employees certainly know what they are doing is wrong.  "They owe it to me because...", "Nobody will miss it...", "My need outweighs the company's greed...", these are a few examples of the rationalization that goes on in the minds of individuals crossing the line.

I find this concept facinating, and it is at the core of many of my novels -- the large, faceless organization; the employee who is looking out for their own interests; the slide far down the slippery slope; the attempts to hide the actions, or justify them as somehow in the company's interests.  These are the raw materials of my stories.

Institutional Capture is a huge problem in organizations, and can even be present in smaller companies.  Those residing in the Corporate world must vigilantly watch out, and expect to find it at every turn.