Bureaucracy
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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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Bureaucracy l.jpg

Bureaucracy

POSC 121

Braunwarth


A rational bureaucracy l.jpg
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


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Characteristics of Weber’s Ideal Bureaucracy

  • Hierarchy

  • Specialization

  • Goal Orientation

  • Impersonality

  • Formal, Written Communications

  • Reward Seniority and Meritorious Service

  • Size


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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


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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


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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


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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


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