Merton notes that some organizational structures can improve efficiency at one level and reduce efficiency at another. He argues that rules, discipline, and career ladders can lead to an "over-concern" with adherance to rules and increase individual conservatism (Merton, 1957). Rule conformity becomes an "end in itself". These "goal displacements" are common in organizations and society in general. Often the means created to achieve certain ends become goals in themselves, or the ends become outdated or less relevant as the environment changes.

Do organizations promote or constrain conformity? Inkeles (1969) found in survey in developing countries that experience in schools and factories increased the openess of males to new activities, reduced fatalism, and an increased interest in politics and news. Kohn (1971) found in a survey of 3000 men that "men who work in organizations tend to value self-direction.. and are more open minded... show greater flexibility".

Another example of excessive conformity and obedience is Milgram's famous electric shock experiment.