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Bureaucracy. POSC 121 Braunwarth. A “Rational” Bureaucracy. What pops into your head when you are asked about bureaucracy? Probably Red tape, inefficiency, slow, etc. Why do we have bureaucracies?

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POSC 121


a rational bureaucracy
A “Rational” Bureaucracy
  • What pops into your head when you are asked about bureaucracy?
  • Probably Red tape, inefficiency, slow, etc.
  • Why do we have bureaucracies?
  • As the German social scientist Max Weber points out, bureaucracies are necessary in any large organization
characteristics of weber s ideal bureaucracy
Characteristics of Weber’s Ideal Bureaucracy
  • Hierarchy
  • Specialization
  • Goal Orientation
  • Impersonality
  • Formal, Written Communications
  • Reward Seniority and Meritorious Service
  • Size
a rational bureaucracy4
A Rational Bureaucracy
  • Think about all of the steps necessary for obtaining a driver’s license
  • Why must one go through such a complicated process?
  • Every step is taken to ensure that we have competent drivers driving safe, registered, and insured automobiles
  • Isn’t there an easier way?
  • We could have no rules at all or a system of bribing public officials
discretion v fixed rules
Discretion v. Fixed Rules
  • Many complain that bureaucratic institutions are too impersonal
  • But, impersonality is the central point of a bureaucracy
  • We would prefer to be treated impersonally rather than according to our ability to provide monetary bribes or sexual favors
  • A bureaucracy has mechanisms to ensure that one is treated fairly
escape from freedom
Escape From Freedom
  • This is the title of a book by Erich Fromme about Germany before WWII
  • Why would people escape freedom?
  • Too much freedom can be unsettling
  • We like order and precision in our lives
  • For instance, you want to know the requirements for a certain grade or degree before the class or school begins
run government as a business
Run Government as a Business?
  • Is this possible?
  • Government should strive for efficiency and accountability but it simply can’t work like a business
  • Goal is not profits but comprehensiveness
  • Government supplies what a market can’t
    • public goods, social welfare, reducing externalities, etc.
  • Regulations can simplify a complex market so the regulated can make better decisions
  • Regulations are needed to protect common resources and raise collective productivity