Bureaucracy – Part 1
February 3 , 2014
• Administrative heart and soul of the government.
• Specific approach or method for dealing with complex problems.
• Rubber meets the road.
o The bills go through congress, and are interpreted, implemented, and
introduced to the American public through the bureaucracy.
• Most direct contact with government.
o Delivers the goods.
o Where the average citizen has the most direct contact with the government
(other than voting).
• Called bureaucrats and civil servants.
Citizens ▯Congress ▯President (if passed) ▯Bureaucracy (part of the Exec)back
to the citize.
*Note: The Supreme Court is in charnge of monistorying the Congress ▯President
What is it?
• Two meanings:
Waste, confusion, “red tape”, and rigidity.
A large, complex organization composed of appointed officials.
• Not exclusive to government
Single set of leaders (e.g. board of directors).
Serve private interests (shareholders).
Organized for profit (dictates the nature of their organization).
o Public (Government)
Does not have a single set of leaders.
• President and Congress
Serve public interests (i.e. all citizens)
• Meant to save taxpayers dollars; not the same goals of
efficiency as the private sector.
Why have it?
• Complex problems
o Management of these is best done by the division of labour – individuals
focus on a specific portion of a greater task. E.g. Think of car assembly. • Division of labor.
• Adam Smith’s pin factory.
o In this time, one person was often in charge of making the entire product –
applied to all manufacturing. Adam Smith wanted to change the way
politics, economics, and labour work.
o He suggested each worker be responsible for a certain part of the
manufacturing process, to increase production efficiency.
o Pin Factory increased productivity by 24 000% percent.
o However, sometimes this leads to quality problems…
o Ford/GM vs. Rolls Royce/Bentley
Rolls Royce are still crafted by hand today, and are the best quality
• Conceptual abstractions
o Helps us to grasp complexities
o A stereotype or mental shortcut.
• Reduce to core components
o Necessary, because things are far too vast and complex for one person to
understand completely. So you accentuate and suppress key points to get
to the core elemen .
o Accentuate, suppress
o E.g. humans, animals
Key components: head, organs, etc. Core elements are all the
• Exaggerate, slanted
o Weber realized that there could never be a mirror image of the ideal type.
IT’s like a caricature, because you can still make out the features, and are
receiving the best interpretation or copy of the real thing.
He applied these real types to bureaucracies.
o Chains of command
Supervision of lower offices was carried out by those higher up in
Would define specific tasks and assignments, allowing for…
o Facilitates mass coordination
• Division of Labor
o Specialization Management of the bureaucracy is done through specialization
(just like in a factory).
Specialists are coordinated into a smooth working operation.
o Compliments hierarchy.
• Fixed Routines
Specific methods for specific issues.
o Standard Operation Procedures (SOP)
We need these SOP’s to ensure equality for all!...
• Equal Rules for All
o Routine ensure equality
Leaves no room for discrimination in basic processes.
o Abstract v. casebycase
o Eliminate/prevent emotion
The more dehumanized a bureaucracy is, the more perfect it
becomes – no personal elements to the job.
• Technical Qualifications
o Part of equality for all, but for those who work there.
o Based on expertise.
o Equality, efficiency.
Efficiency in the sense that someone with knowledge and skills got
the job – not through a personal connection.
Bureaucratic Pathologies (problems that develop in bureaucracies).
• Rote (old operating procedures failing to cope with current issues).
o Failure to adjust
Applying old answers to new problems.
E.g. Hurricane Katrina response.
o Allows people to avoid responsibility/blame
“Not my job.” Rely on SOPs to solve their problems.
Like companies, with budgets, staffing, etc. These different
departments then compete with each other, and turf wars occur.
Departments fight over jurisdiction.
o Avoid budget cuts
Leads to turf wars.
If a department seems obsolete (e.g. FBI), they will receive less
resources. They respond to this by trying to make themselves
appear more important.
• Turf Wars
o Overlapping FBI had names of 9/11 suspects, and CIA had corresponding
information. But because they failed to collaborate, terrorists slip
through the cracks.
o Super Troopers
• Lack of Coordination
o No smooth mechanism
o SOP, foreign language
For these departments to communicate, because of these SOPs
(Standard Operating Procedures) – they know the language of
their own department, but not of others.
o Bias embedded in SOP
o E.g. “Organic”
Organic farmers approach US Department of Agriculture to
standardize what “organic” means.
D of A took on the project, and determined that allowed genetic
engineering, radiation, antibiotics, hormones, and sewage fludge
are considered organic.
To standardize a definition, and SOP is put forward, which
requires lawyers, funds, and time…which no one has in a food