FACTOID # 23: Wisconsin has more metal fabricators per capita than any other state.
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 
People who viewed "Bureaucracy" also viewed:


FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:



(* = Graphable)



Encyclopedia > Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy is the structure and set of regulations in place to control activity, usually in large organizations and government. As opposed to adhocracy, it is represented by standardized procedure (rule-following) that dictates the execution of most or all processes within the body, formal division of powers, hierarchy, and relationships. In practice the interpretation and execution of policy can lead to informal influence. For other uses, see Politics (disambiguation). ... This is a list of political topics, including political science terms, political philosophies, political issues, etc. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Consent of the governed is a political theory stating that a governments legitimacy and moral right to use state power is, or ought to be, derived from the people or society over which that power is exercised. ... Information on politics by country is available for every country, including both de jure and de facto independent states, inhabited dependent territories, as well as areas of special sovereignty. ... This list summarises the country subdivisions which have a separate article on their politics. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political economy was the original term for the study of production, the acts of buying and selling, and their relationships to laws, customs and government. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political history is the narrative and analysis of political events, ideas, movements, and leaders. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political philosophy is the study of fundamental questions about the state, government, politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why (or even if) they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political Science is the field concerning the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behaviour. ... Foreign affairs redirects here. ... Main International relations theory Politics Portal This box:      International relations theory attempts to provide a conceptual model upon which international relations can be analyzed. ... This is a list of notable political scientists. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Comparative politics is a subfield of political science, characterized by an empirical approach based on the comparative method. ... Public Administration can be broadly described as the development, implementation and study of government policy. ... Street-level bureaucracy is a term used to refer to a public agency employee who actually performs the actions that implement laws. ... Adhocracy is a type of organization being an opposite of bureaucracy. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Separation of powers is a term coined by French political Enlightenment thinker Baron de Montesquieu[1][2], is a model for the governance of democratic states. ... In the law, the judiciary or judicial system is the system of courts which administer justice in the name of the sovereign or state, a mechanism for the resolution of disputes. ... A Legislature is a type of representative deliberative assembly with the power to create, amend and ratify laws. ... Sovereignty is the exclusive right to have control over an area of governance, people, or oneself. ... The psychodynamics of decision-making form a basis to understand institutional functioning. ... This article is about the political process. ... Vote redirects here. ... For theological federalism, see Covenant Theology. ... A form of government (also referred to as a system of government or a political system) is a system composed of various people, institutions and their relations in regard to the governance of a state. ... An ideology is an organized collection of ideas. ... “Electioneering” redirects here. ... A political party is a political organization that seeks to attain political power within a government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns. ... Bureaucracy is a text-based computer game released by Infocom in 1987, scripted by popular comic science fiction author Douglas Adams. ... The Discordian calendar is an alternative calendar used by some adherents of Discordianism. ... Adhocracy is a type of organization being an opposite of bureaucracy. ... Look up policy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Bureaucracy is a concept in sociology and political science referring to the way that the administrative execution and enforcement of legal rules are socially organized. Four structural concepts are central to any definition of bureaucracy: Sociology (from Latin: socius, companion; and the suffix -ology, the study of, from Greek λόγος, lógos, knowledge [1]) is the scientific or systematic study of society, including patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture[2]. Areas studied in sociology can range from the analysis of brief contacts between anonymous... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political Science is the field concerning the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behaviour. ...

  1. a well-defined division of administrative labor among persons and offices,
  2. a personnel system with consistent patterns of recruitment and stable linear careers,
  3. a hierarchy among offices, such that the authority and status are differentially distributed among actors, and
  4. formal and informal networks that connect organizational actors to one another through flows of information and patterns of cooperation.

Examples of everyday bureaucracies include governments, armed forces, corporations, hospitals, courts, ministries and schools. The armed forces of a state are its government sponsored defense and fighting forces and organizations. ... For other uses, see Corporation (disambiguation). ... For the town in the Republic of Ireland, see Hospital, County Limerick. ... A trial at the Old Bailey in London as drawn by Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Pugin for Ackermanns Microcosm of London (1808-11). ... A ministry is a department of a government, led by a minister. ... Students in Rome, Italy. ...


Origin of the concept

The word "bureaucracy" stems from the word "bureau", used from the early 18th century in Western Europe not just to refer to a writing desk, but to an office, i.e., a workplace, where officials worked. The original French meaning of the word bureau was the baize used to cover desks. The term bureaucracy came into use shortly before the French Revolution of 1789, and from there rapidly spread to other countries. The Greek suffix - kratia or kratos - means "power" or "rule". (17th century - 18th century - 19th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century refers to the century that lasted from 1701 through 1800. ... Baize is a coarse woollen or cotton cloth, often coloured red or green. ... The French Revolution (1789–1815) was a period of political and social upheaval in the political history of France and Europe as a whole, during which the French governmental structure, previously an absolute monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change to forms based on...

In a letter of July 1, 1790, the German Baron von Grimm declared: "We are obsessed by the idea of regulation, and our Masters of Requests refuse to understand that there is an infinity of things in a great state with which a government should not concern itself." Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay sometimes used to say, "We have an illness in France which bids fair to play havoc with us; this illness is called bureaumania." Sometimes he used to invent a fourth or fifth form of government under the heading of "bureaucracy". Friedrich Melchior, baron von Grimm Friedrich Melchior, Baron von Grimm (December 26, 1723 - December 19, 1807), author, the son of a German pastor, was born at Ratisbon. ... Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay (1712-1759) was a French economist, one of the creators of the laissez faire, laissez passer economic philosophy. ...

In another letter of July 15, 1765 Baron Grimm wrote also, "The real spirit of the laws in France is that bureaucracy of which the late Monsieur de Gournay used to complain so greatly; here the offices, clerks, secretaries, inspectors and intendants are not appointed to benefit the public interest, indeed the public interest appears to have been established so that offices might exist."[1]

This quote refers to a traditional controversy about bureaucracy, namely the perversion of means and ends so that means become ends in themselves, and the greater good is lost sight of; as a corollary, the substitution of sectional interests for the general interest. The suggestion here is that, left uncontrolled, the bureaucracy will become increasingly self-serving and corrupt, rather than serving society.

Development of Bureaucracy

Perhaps the early example of a bureaucrat is the scribe, who first arose as a professional on the early cities of Sumer. The Sumerian script was so complicated that it required specialists who had trained for their entire lives in the discipline of writing to manipulate it. These scribes could wield significant power, as they had a total monopoly on the keeping of records and creation of inscriptions on monuments to kings. This is about scribe, the profession. ... Sumer ( Sumerian: KI-EN-GIR, Land of the Lords of Brightness[1], or land of the Sumerian tongue[2][3], Akkadian: Å umeru; possibly Biblical Shinar ), located in southern Mesopotamia, is the earliest known civilization in the world. ... Look up Cuneiform in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

In later, larger empires like Achaemenid Persia, bureaucracies quickly expanded as government expanded and increased its functions. In the Persian Empire, the central government was divided into administrative provinces led by satraps. The satraps were appointed by the Shah to control the provinces. In addition, a general and a royal secretary were stationed in each province to supervise troop recruitment and keep records, respectively. The Achaemenid Great Kings also sent royal inspectors to tour the empire and report on local conditions. Founder of empires: Cyrus, The Great is still revered in modern Iran as he was in all the successor Persian Empires. ... Province is a name for a secondary, or subnational entity of government in most countries. ... Look up satrap in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Shah or Shahzad is a Persian term for a monarch (ruler) that has been adopted in many other languages. ... This does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... For other uses, see Secretary (disambiguation). ...

The most modernesque of all ancient bureaucracies, however, was the Chinese bureaucracy. During the chaos of the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States, Confucius recognized the need for a stable system of administrators to lend good governance even when the leaders were inept. Chinese bureaucracy, first implemented during the Qin dynasty but under more Confucian lines under the Han, calls for the appointment of bureaucratic positions based on merit via a system of examinations. Although the power of the Chinese bureaucrats waxed and waned throughout China's long history, the imperial examination system lasted as late as 1905, and modern China still employs a formidable bureaucracy in its daily workings. The Modern-Era of NASCAR is a dividing line in NASCARs history. ... Scholar-bureaucrats or scholar-officials were civil servants appointed by the emperor of China to perform day-to-day governance during the Qing Dynasty. ... The Spring and Autumn Period (Chinese: ; Pinyin: ) was a period in Chinese history, which roughly corresponds to the first half of the Eastern Zhou dynasty (from the second half of the 8th century BC to the first half of the 5th century). ... Warring States redirects here. ... Confucius (Chinese: ; pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Kung-fu-tzu), lit. ... Qin Dynasty in 210 BC Capital Xianyang Language(s) Chinese Government Monarchy History  - Unification of China 221 BC  - Death of Qin Shi Huangdi 210 BC  - Surrender to Liu Bang 206 BC The Qin Dynasty (Chinese: ; pinyin: ; Wade-Giles: Chin Chao) (221 BC - 206 BC) was preceded by the... A Confucian temple in Wuwei, Peoples Republic of China. ... Han Dynasty in 87 BC Capital Changan (206 BC–9 AD) Luoyang (25 AD–220 AD) Language(s) Chinese Religion Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion Government Monarchy History  - Establishment 206 BC  - Battle of Gaixia; Han rule of China begins 202 BC  - Interruption of Han rule 9 - 24  - Abdication... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Meritocracy is a system of a government or another organization wherein appointments are made *who* makes the appointments - ultimately, it is the people (all members of the group). ... The Imperial examinations (Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ) in Imperial China determined who among the population would be permitted to enter the states bureaucracy. ... The History of China is told in traditional historical records that refer as far back as the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors about 5,000 years ago, supplemented by archaeological records dating to the 16th century BC. China is one of the worlds oldest continuous civilizations. ... For other uses, see 1905 (disambiguation). ...

Modern bureaucracies arose as the government of states grew larger during the modern period, and especially following the Industrial Revolution. Tax collectors, perhaps the most reviled of all bureaucrats, became increasingly necessary as states began to take in more and more revenue, while the role of administrators increased as the functions of government multiplied. Along with this expansion, though, came the recognition of the corruption and nepotism often inherent within the managerial system, leading to civil service reform on a large scale in many countries towards the end of the 19th century. A Watt steam engine, the steam engine that propelled the Industrial Revolution in Britain and the world. ... A tax is an involuntary fee paid by individuals or businesses to a state, or to functional equivalents of a state, including tribes, secessionist movements or revolutionary movements. ... Look up nepotism in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... George H. Pendleton The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act (ch. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Entrepreneurship, Networked Legitimacy, and Autonomy

In "The Forging of Bureaucratic Autonomy," Daniel Carpenter argues that bureaucratic autonomy emerges only upon the historical achievement of three conditions:

  1. the autonomous bureaucracies are politically differentiated from the actors who seek to control them.
  2. the bureaucratic autonomy requires the development of unique organizational capacities - capacities to analyze, to create new programs, to solve problems, to plan, to administer programs with efficiency, and to ward off corruption.
  3. bureaucratic autonomy requires political legitimacy, or strong organizational reputations embedded in an independent power base.

Karl Marx and bureaucracy

In Karl Marx's and Friedrich Engels's theory of historical materialism, the historical origin of bureaucracy is to be found in four sources: religion, the formation of the state, commerce and technology. Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818 – March 14, 1883) was a 19th century philosopher, political economist, and revolutionary. ... Engels redirects here. ... Historical materialism is the methodological approach to the study of society, economics, and history which was first articulated by Karl Marx (1818-1883), although Marx himself never used the term (he referred it as philosophical materialism, a term he used to distinguish it from what he called popular materialism). Historical...

Thus, the earliest bureaucracies consisted of castes of religious clergy, officials and scribes operating various rituals, and armed functionaries specifically delegated to keep order. In the historical transition from primitive egalitarian communities to a civil society divided into social classes and estates, beginning from about 10,000 years ago, authority is increasingly centralized in, and enforced by a state apparatus existing separately from society. This state formulates, imposes and enforces laws, and levies taxes, giving rise to an officialdom enacting these functions. Thus, the state mediates in conflicts among the people and keeps those conflicts within acceptable bounds; it also organizes the defense of territory. Most importantly, the right of ordinary people to carry and use weapons of force becomes increasingly restricted; in civil society, forcing other people to do things becomes increasingly the legal right of the state authorities only. [2]

But the growth of trade and commerce adds a new, distinctive dimension to bureaucracy, insofar as it requires the keeping of accounts and the processing/recording of transactions, as well as the enforcement of legal rules governing trade. If resources are increasingly distributed by prices in markets, this requires extensive and complex systems of record-keeping, management and calculation, conforming to legal standards. Eventually, this means that the total amount of work involved in commercial administration outgrows the total amount of work involved in government administration. In modern capitalist society, private sector bureaucracy is larger than government bureaucracy, if measured by the number of administrative workers in the division of labor as a whole. Some corporations nowadays have a turnover larger than the national income of whole countries, with large administrations supervising operations. For people whose family name is Price see Price (disambiguation). ... Division of labour is the breakdown of labour into specific, circumscribed tasks for maximum efficiency of output in the context of manufacturing. ...

Liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith comments: "In common discourse, bureaucracy and bureaucratic achievement exist in government, not in the corporate world. (...)The modern corporation, the reality notwithstanding, condemns the word 'bureaucracy'. That is for government. Corporate management, the established reference, has an activist tone. Participants in the management structure can be unncessary, inept, self-concerned, but they are not bureaucrats. In government organization, group decision, delayed and less than competent action, is normal; here there is bureaucracy. Not in private industry. A small manifestation of mostly innocent fraud." (The economics of innocent fraud. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004, p. 23-24). John Kenneth Galbraith John Kenneth Galbraith (October 15, 1908–April 29, 2006) was an influential Canadian-American economist. ...

A fourth source of bureaucracy Marxists have commented on inheres in the technologies of mass production, which require many standardized routines and procedures to be performed. Even if mechanization replaces people with machinery, people are still necessary to design, control, supervise and operate the machinery. The technologies chosen may not be the ones that are best for everybody, but which create incomes for a particular class of people or maintain their power. This type of bureaucracy is nowadays often called a technocracy, which owes its power to control over specialized technical knowledge or control over critical information. This article pertains to technocracy as a bureaucratic structure. ...

In Marx's theory, bureaucracy rarely creates new wealth by itself, but rather controls, co-ordinates and governs the production, distribution and consumption of wealth. The bureaucracy as a social stratum derives its income from the appropriation of part of the social surplus product of human labor. Wealth is appropriated by the bureaucracy by law through fees, taxes, levies, tributes, licensing etc. Surplus product (German: Mehrprodukt) is a concept explicitly theorised by Karl Marx in his critique of political economy. ...

Bureaucracy is therefore always a cost to society, but this cost may be accepted insofar as it makes social order possible, and maintains it by enforcing the rule of law. Nevertheless there are constant conflicts about this cost, because it has the big effect on the distribution of incomes; all producers will try to get the maximum return from what they produce, and minimize administrative costs. Typically, in epochs of strong economic growth, bureaucracies proliferate; when economic growth declines, a fight breaks out to cut back bureaucratic costs[citation needed]. Social order is a concept used in sociology, history and other social sciences. ...

Whether or not a bureaucracy as a social stratum can become a genuine ruling class depends greatly on the prevailing property relations and the mode of production of wealth. In capitalist society, the state typically lacks an independent economic base, finances many activities on credit, and is heavily dependent on levying taxes as a source of income. Therefore, its power is limited by the costs which private owners of the productive assets will tolerate[citation needed]. If, however, the state owns the means of production itself, defended by military power, the state bureaucracy can become much more powerful, and act as a ruling class or power elite. Because in that case, it directly controls the sources of new wealth, and manages or distributes the social product. This is the subject of Marxist theories of bureaucratic collectivism. The term ruling class refers to the social class of a given society that decides upon and sets that societys political policy. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... In the writings of Karl Marx and the Marxist theory of historical materialism, a mode of production (in German: Produktionsweise, meaning the way of producing) is a specific combination of: productive forces: these include human labor-power, tools, equipment, buildings and technologies, materials, and improved land social and technical relations... Means of production (abbreviated MoP; German: Produktionsmittel), are the combination of the means of labor and the subject of labor used by workers to make products. ... Bureaucratic collectivism is a theory of class society. ...

Marx himself however never theorized this possibility in detail, and it has been the subject of much controversy among Marxists. The core organizational issue in these disputes concerns the degree to which the administrative allocation of resources by government authorities and the market allocation of resources can achieve the social goal of creating a more free, just and prosperous society. Which decisions should be made by whom, at what level, so that an optimal allocation of resources results? This is just as much a moral-political issue as an economic issue.

Central to the Marxian concept of socialism is the idea of workers' self-management, which assumes the internalization of a morality and self-discipline among people that would make bureaucratic supervision and control redundant, together with a drastic reorganization of the division of labor in society. Bureaucracies emerge to mediate conflicts of interest on the basis of laws, but if those conflicts of interest disappear (because resources are allocated directly in a fair way), bureaucracies would also be redundant. Socialism refers to the goal of a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community. ... Morality (from the Latin manner, character, proper behavior) has three principal meanings. ...

Marx's critics are however skeptical of the feasibility of this kind of socialism, given the continuing need for administration and the rule of law, as well as the propensity of people to put their own self-interest before the communal interest. That is, the argument is that self-interest and the communal interest might never coincide, or, at any rate, can always diverge significantly.

Max Weber on bureaucracy

Max Weber has probably been one of the most influential users of the word in its social science sense. He is well-known for his study of bureaucratization of society; many aspects of modern public administration go back to him; a classic, hierarchically organized civil service of the continental type is — if perhaps mistakenly — called "Weberian civil service". For the politician, see Max Weber (politician). ... The social sciences are groups of academic disciplines that study the human aspects of the world. ... Public Administration can be broadly described as the development, implementation and study of government policy. ... The Roman civil service in action. ... Continental may refer to: The adjective of continent, such as in continental Europe, continental breakfast, or continental climate, or Continental Glacier; The culture of the continental nation states of Europe, inasmuch as it contrasts with the culture of Anglo-Saxon England; The Lincoln Continental, a car made by Lincoln division...

However, contrary to popular belief, "bureaucracy" was an English word before Weber; the Oxford English Dictionary cites usage in several different years between 1818 and 1860, prior to Weber's birth in 1864. The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is the most successful dictionary of the English language, (not to be confused with the one-volume Oxford Dictionary of English, formerly New Oxford Dictionary of English, of... Year 1818 (MDCCCXVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian Calendar (or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... 1860 is the leap year starting on Sunday. ... 1864 (MDCCCLXIV) was a leap year starting on Friday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a leap year starting on Sunday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar. ...

Weber described the ideal type bureaucracy in positive terms, considering it to be a more rational and efficient form of organization than the alternatives that preceded it, which he characterized as charismatic domination and traditional domination. According to his terminology, bureaucracy is part of legal domination. However, he also emphasized that bureaucracy becomes inefficient when a decision must be adopted to an individual case. Ideal type, also known as pure type, or idealtyp (in the original German), is a typological term invented by sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920). ... This article needs cleanup. ... Traditional authority (also known as traditional domination) is a form of leadership in which the authority of an organization or a ruling regime is largely tied to the tradition. ... Rational-legal authority (also known as rational authority, legal authority, rational domination, legal domination) is a form of leadership in which the authority of an organization or a ruling regime is largely tied to legal rationality, legal legitimacy and bureaucracy. ...

According to Weber, the attributes of modern bureaucracy include its impersonality, concentration of the means of administration, a leveling effect on social and economic differences and implementation of a system of authority that is practically indestructible.

Weber's analysis of bureaucracy concerns:

  • the historical and administrative reasons for the process of bureaucratization (especially in the Western civilisation)
  • the impact of the rule of law upon the functioning of bureaucratic organisations
  • the typical personal orientation and occupational position of a bureaucratic officials as a status group
  • the most important attributes and consequences of bureaucracy in the modern world

A bureaucratic organization is governed by the following seven principles: For alternative meanings for The West in the United States, see the U.S. West and American West. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      The rule of law, in its most basic form, is the principle that no one is above the law. ... The sociologist Max Weber formulated a three-component theory of stratification in which he defines status class (also known as a status group) as a group of people (part of a society) that can be differentiated on the basis of non-economical qualities like honour, prestige and religion. ...

  1. official business is conducted on a continuous basis
  2. official business is conducted with strict accordance to the following rules:
    1. the duty of each official to do certain types of work is delimited in terms of impersonal criteria
    2. the official is given the authority necessary to carry out his assigned functions
    3. the means of coercion at his disposal are strictly limited and conditions of their use strictly defined
  3. every official's responsibilities and authority are part of a vertical hierarchy of authority, with respective rights of supervision and appeal
  4. officials do not own the resources necessary for the performance of their assigned functions but are accountable for their use of these resources
  5. official and private business and income are strictly separated
  6. offices cannot be appropriated by their incumbents (inherited, sold, etc.)
  7. official business is conducted on the basis of written documents

A bureaucratic official:

  • is personally free and appointed to his position on the basis of conduct
  • exercises the authority delegated to him in accordance with impersonal rules, and his or her loyalty is enlisted on behalf of the faithful execution of his official duties
  • appointment and job placement are dependent upon his or her technical qualifications
  • administrative work is a full-time occupation
  • work is rewarded by a regular salary and prospects of advancement in a lifetime career

An official must exercise his or her judgment and his or her skills, but his or her duty is to place these at the service of a higher authority; ultimately he/she is responsible only for the impartial execution of assigned tasks and must sacrifice his or her personal judgment if it runs counter to his or her official duties.

Weber's work has been continued by many, like Robert Michels with his Iron Law of Oligarchy. Robert Michels (9 January 1876, Cologne, Germany — 3 May 1936, Rome, Italy) was a German sociologist who wrote on the political behavior of intellectual elites. ... The iron law of oligarchy is a political theory, first developed by the German syndicalist sociologist Robert Michels in his 1911 book, Political Parties. ...


As Max Weber himself noted, real bureaucracy will be less optimal and effective than his ideal type model. Each of Weber's seven principles can degenerate:[citation needed]

  • Vertical hierarchy of authority can become chaotic, some offices can be omitted in the decision making process, there may be conflicts of competence;
  • Competences can be unclear and used contrary to the spirit of the law; sometimes a decision itself may be considered more important than its effect;
  • Nepotism, corruption, political infighting and other degenerations can counter the rule of impersonality and can create a recruitment and promotion system not based on meritocracy but rather on oligarchy;
  • Officials try to avoid accountability and seek anonymity by avoiding documentation of their procedures (or creating extreme amounts of chaotic, confusing documents, see also: transparency)

Even a non-degenerated bureaucracy can be affected by common problems: Look up nepotism in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up Oligarchy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Accountability is a concept in ethics with several meanings. ... In the physical sciences, specifically in optics, a transparent physical object is one that can be seen through. ...

  • Overspecialization, making individual officials not aware of larger consequences of their actions
  • Rigidity and inertia of procedures, making decision-making slow or even impossible when facing some unusual case, and similarly delaying change, evolution and adaptation of old procedures to new circumstances;
  • A phenomenon of group thinking - zealotry, loyalty and lack of critical thinking regarding the organisation which is perfect and always correct by definition, making the organisation unable to change and realise its own mistakes and limitations;
  • Disregard for dissenting opinions, even when such views suit the available data better than the opinion of the majority;
  • A phenomenon of Catch-22 (named after a famous book by Joseph Heller) - as bureaucracy creates more and more rules and procedures, their complexity rises and coordination diminishes, facilitating creation of contradictory and recursive rules
  • Not allowing people to use common sense, as everything must be as is written by the law.

In the most common examples bureaucracy can lead to the treatment of individual human beings as impersonal objects. This process has been criticised by many philosophers and writers (Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Hannah Arendt) and satirized in the comic strip Dilbert,TV show The Office, Franz Kafka's novels The Trial and The Castle , Douglas Adams' story The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and the films Brazil and Office Space. Catch-22 is a term coined by Joseph Heller in his novel Catch-22, describing a paradox in a law, regulation or practice in which one is a victim regardless of the choice one makes[1]. In probability theory, it refers a situation similar to Heads I win, tails you... Catch 22 can refer to: A book by Joseph Heller, or the movie based on the book; see Catch-22. ... Joseph Heller (May 1, 1923 – December 12, 1999) was an American satirical novelist and playwright. ... Broadly speaking, a contradiction is an incompatibility between two or more statements, ideas, or actions. ... This article is about the concept of recursion. ... Aldous Leonard Huxley (26 July 1894 – 22 November 1963) was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. ... George Orwell is the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903[1][2] – 21 January 1950) who was an English writer and journalist well-noted as a novelist, critic, and commentator on politics and culture. ... Hannah Arendt (October 14, 1906 – December 4, 1975) was a German Jewish political theorist. ... Dilbert (first published April 16, 1989) is an American comic strip written and drawn by Scott Adams. ... This article is about the various versions of the television series The Office, comparing UK, US, French, German, and Canadian (Quebec) versions. ... Kafka redirects here. ... This article is about the novel by Kafka. ... It has been suggested that The Castle, Critical Edition, Underwood Translation be merged into this article or section. ... Douglas Noël Adams (11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001) was an English author, comic radio dramatist, and musician. ... The cover of the first novel in the Hitchhikers series, from a late 1990s printing. ... Brazil (first released on February 20, 1985) is a dystopic comedy film directed by Monty Python member Terry Gilliam. ... Office Space is an American comedy film written and directed by Mike Judge. ...

American Usage

Woodrow Wilson, writing as an academic, professed:[3] Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856—February 3, 1924), was the twenty-eighth President of the United States. ... Plato is credited with the inception of academia: the body of knowledge, its development and transmission across generations. ...

...[A]dministration in the United States must be at all points sensitive to public opinion. A body of thoroughly trained officials serving during good behavior we must have in any case: that is a plain business necessity. But the apprehension that such a body will be anything un-American clears away the moment it is asked. What is to constitute good behavior? For that question obviously carries its own answer on its face. Steady, hearty allegiance to the policy of the government they serve will constitute good behavior. That policy will have no taint of officialism about it. It will not be the creation of permanent officials, but of statesmen whose responsibility to public opinion will be direct and inevitable. Bureaucracy can exist only where the whole service of the state is removed from the common political life of the people, its chiefs as well as its rank and file. Its motives, its objects, its policy, its standards, must be bureaucratic.

Nevertheless, American colloquial usage is usually derogatory unless established otherwise. An example might be that an organization which puts its own comfort, convenience and longevity ahead of its mission could be called a bureaucracy. Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ...

It is no wonder that popular dictionary definitions echo our profound dislike of bureaucracy. The American Heritage Dictionary' definition of bureaucracy reads in part: "numerous offices and adherence to inflexible rules of operation;... any unwieldy administration." According to Webster's New world Dictionary of the American Language, "bureaucracy is governmental officialism or inflexible routine." Roget's Thesaurus gives equally demeaning synonyms for bureaucracy: "officialism", "officiousness", and "red tape". Red tape (or sometimes paperwork) is a derisive term for excessive regulation or rigid conformity to formal rules that is considered redundant or bureaucratic and hinders or prevents action or decision-making. ...

Austrian School Analysis of Bureaucracy

The analysis of bureaucracy by the Austrian school reflects its characteristic focus on economics, and emphasizes the distinction between bureaucratic management and profit management.[4] The Austrian School, also known as the “Vienna School” or the “Psychological School”, is a heterodox school of economic thought that advocates adherence to strict methodological individualism. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ...

Current academic debates

Modern academic research has debated the extent to which elected officials can control their bureaucratic agents. Because bureaucrats have more information than elected officials about what they are doing and what they should be doing, bureaucrats might have the ability to implement policies or regulations that go against the public interest. In the American context, these concerns led to the "Congressional abdication" hypotheses--the claim that Congress had abdicated its authority over public policy to appointed bureaucrats.

Theodore Lowi initiated this debate by concluding in a 1979 book that the U.S. Congress does not exercise effective oversight of bureaucratic agencies. Instead, policies are made by "iron triangles", consisting of interest groups, appointed bureaucrats, and Congressional subcommittees (who, according to Lowi, were likely to have more extreme views than the Congress as a whole).[5] It is thought that since 1979 interest groups have taken a large role and now do not only effect bureaucracy, but also the money in congress. The idea of "iron triangles" has since evolved to "iron hexagons" and then to a "hollow sphere." This article is about a political term. ... This article is about political advocates. ... A Congressional subcommittee in the United States Congress is a subdivision of a standing committee that considers specified matters and reports back to the full committee. ...

The relationships between the Legislatures, the Interest Groups, Bureaucrats, and the general public all have an effect on each other. Without one of these pieces the entire structure would completely change. This relationship is considered "mu", or such that not one single piece can describe or control the entire process. The public votes in the legislatures and the interest groups provide information, but the legislature and bureaucrats also have an effect on the interest groups and the public. The entire system is codependent on each other.

William Niskanen's earlier (1971) 'budget-maximizing' model complemented Lowi's claims; where Lowi claimed that Congress (and legislatures more generally) failed to exercise oversight, Niskanen argued that rational bureaucrats will always and everywhere seek to increase their budgets, thereby contributing strongly to state growth. Niskanen went on to serve on the U.S. Council of Economic Advisors under President Reagan, and his model provided a strong underpinning for the worldwide move towards cutbacks of public spending and the introduction of privatization in the 1980s and '90s.[citation needed] William A. Niskanen is chairman of the Cato Institute, a position he has held since 1985 following service on President Reagans Council of Economic Advisers. ...

Two branches of theorizing have arisen in response to these claims. The first focuses on bureaucratic motivations; Niskanen's universalist approach was critiqued by a range of pluralist authors who argued that officials' motivations are more public interest-orientated than Niskanen allowed. The bureau-shaping model (put forward by Patrick Dunleavy) also argues against Niskanen that rational bureaucrats should only maximize the part of their budget that they spend on their own agency's operations or give to contractors or powerful interest groups (that are able to organize a flowback of benefits to senior officials). For instance, rational officials will get no benefit from paying out larger welfare checks to millions of poor people, since the bureaucrats' own utilities are not improved. Consequently we should expect bureaucracies to significantly maximize budgets in areas like police forces and defense, but not in areas like welfare state spending. Bureau-shaping is a rational choice model of bureaucracy that argues that rational officials will not want to maximize their budgets, but instead to shape their agency so as to maximize their personal utilities from their work. ... Image:Dunleavy4. ...

A second branch of responses has focused more on Lowi's claims, asking whether legislatures (and usually the American Congress in particular) can control bureaucrats. This empirical research is motivated by a normative concern: If we wish to believe that we live in a democracy, then it must be true that appointed bureaucrats cannot act contrary to elected officials' interests. (This claim is itself debatable; if we fully trusted elected officials, we would not spend so much time implementing constitutional checks and balances.[6]) In philosophy, normative is usually contrasted with positive, descriptive or explanatory when describing types of theories, beliefs, or statements. ...

Within this second branch, scholars have published numerous studies debating the circumstances under which elected officials can control bureaucratic outputs. Most of these studies examine the American case, though their findings have been generalized elsewhere as well.[7][8] These studies argue that legislatures have a variety of oversight means at their disposal, and they use many of them regularly. These oversight mechanisms have been classified into two types: "Police patrols" (actively auditing agencies and looking for misbehavior) and "fire alarms" (imposing open administrative procedures on bureaucrats to make it easier for adversely affected groups to detect bureaucratic malfeasance and bring it to the legislature's attention).[9]

A third concept of self-interested bureaucracy and its effect on the production of public goods has been forwarded by Faizul Latif Chowdhury. In contrast to Niskanen and Dunleavy, who primarily focused on the self-interested behaviour of only the top-level bureaucrats involved in policy making, Chowdhury in his thesis submitted to the London School of Economics in 1997 drew attention to the impact of the low level civil servants whose rent-seeking behaviour pushes up the cost of production of public goods. Particularly, it was shown with reference to the tax officials how rent-seeking by them causes loss in government revenue[10]. Chowdhury’s model of rent-seeking bureaucracy captures the case of administrative corruption whereby public money is directly expropriated by public servants in general. In economics, a public good is one that cannot or will not be produced for individual profit, since it is difficult to get people to pay for its large beneficial externalities. ... Faizul Latif Chowdhury. ... Mascot: Beaver Affiliations: University of London Russell Group EUA ACU CEMS APSIA Golden Triangle G5 Group Universities UK Website: http://www. ...


  • On Karl Marx: Hal Draper, Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution, Volume 1: State and Bureaucracy. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1979.
  • Marx comments on the state bureaucracy in his Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right [2] and Engels discusses the origins of the state here: [3]
  • Ernest Mandel, Power and Money: A Marxist Theory of Bureaucracy. London: Verso, 1992.
  • On Weber: Watson, Tony J. (1980). Sociology, Work and Industry. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-32165-4. 
  • Neil Garston (ed.), Bureaucracy: Three Paradigms. Boston: Kluwer, 1993.
  • Chowdhury, Faizul Latif (2006), Corrupt Bureaucracy and Privatization of Tax Enforcement. Dhaka: Pathak Samabesh, ISBN 984-8120-62-9.


  1. ^ Baron de Grimm and Diderot, Correspondence littéraire, philosophique et critique, 1753-69, 1813 edition, Vol. 4, p. 146 & 508 - cited by Martin Albrow, Bureaucracy. London: Pall Mall Press, 1970, p. 16
  2. ^ Friedrich Engels; The origin of the family, private property and the state. [1]
  3. ^ Wilson, Woodrow. The Study of Administration Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Jun., 1887), pp. 197-222
  4. ^ von Mises, Ludwig [1944] (1962). Bureaucracy. Retrieved on 2006-11-10. 
  5. ^ Lowi. 1979. The end of liberalism. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
  6. ^ Scholz and Wood. 1988. Controlling the IRS: Principals, principles, and public administration. American Journal of Political Science 42 (January): 141-162.
  7. ^ Huber and Shipan. 2002. Deliberate discretion: The institutional foundations of bureaucratic autonomy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  8. ^ Ramseyer and Rosenbluth. 1993. Japan's political marketplace. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  9. ^ McCubbins and Schwartz. 1984. Congressional oversight overlooked: Police patrols versus fire alarms. American Journal of Political Science 28: 16-79.
  10. ^ Chowdhury, Faizul Latif (2006). Corrupt Bureaucracy and Privatization of Tax Enforcement. 

Denis Diderot Denis Diderot (October 5, 1713 - July 31, 1784) was a French writer and philosopher. ... Ludwig Heinrich Edler von Mises (September 29, 1881 – October 10, 1973) (pronounced was a notable economist and a major influence on the modern libertarian movement. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 314th day of the year (315th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

External links

See also

A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy, usually within an institution of the government. ...

  Results from FactBites:
What Is bureaucracy (14331 words)
Bureaucracy is "normally" at the service of a dominant class since the administration of public affairs within the framework of a given regime always assumes the preservation of its status.
It is still the case that bureaucracy is a circle out of which no one can escape, that subordinates rely on their superiors to take the initiative and to resolve difficulties, while the superiors expect their subordinates to solve particular problems which elude the level of generality where they have been conceived.
Bureaucracy exists only through bureaucrats and their common aim to form a milieu apart from those whom they dominate, to participate in socialized power, and to interdefine each other in a hierarchy which guarantees them either material status or prestige.
Bureaucracy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2046 words)
Bureaucracy is a concept in sociology and political science referring to the way that the administrative execution and enforcement of legal rules is socially organized.
Bureaucracy is derived from the word bureau, used from the early 18th century in Western Europe not just to refer to a writing desk, but to an office, i.e.
Weber described the ideal type bureaucracy in positive terms, considering it to be a more rational and efficient form of organization than the alternatives that preceded it, which he characterized as charismatic domination and traditional domination.
  More results at FactBites »



Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m