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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 2246E
Ross Gibbons

Chapter 3 Theories of OrganizationPerspectives on Bureaucratic Organization Robert Denhardt reminds us although we often think of the public bureaucracy as an impersonal mechanism in fact behind each of our encounters with public organizations lies a lengthy ad complex chain of human events understandings and behaviours developed in the everyday lives of people just like us Academically organization theory is often associated with schools of business managementmost organization theory originated from studies about how to improve the management of private sector organizationsTheories derived from business practices have bee adapted onto the public sector in an attempt to understand how government organizes itselfIn the nineteenth and twentieth centuries organizations became increasingly administered according to values of rationality impersonality and efficiencyThe development of the theory and practice of public administration has been thestory of struggling to adapt and extend aspects of private sector management into the public sector and blend those with theory and practice unique to the problems and opportunities of governing Classic Theorists Karl MarxConcepts of class conflict and alienation were central to understanding bureaucracyInfluenced in his ideas about bureaucracy by the German philosopher HelaFor Hegel the bureaucracy represented a bridge between the state and civil society The state represented the overall general or common interestThe state bureaucracy in Hegels view was the medium through which the transformation of the particular interest into the general interest could take placeMarx rejected Hegels characterization of the state bureaucracyFor Marx bureaucracy was not some kind of ideal representation of the general will of societyIt was more concrete than that it was real people involved in a particular set of social relationships involving the exercise of powerMarx particularly disagreed with Hegels conception of the bureaucracy as the universal element in society Whereas in society various interests struggled for possession of private property within the bureaucracy the struggle was over positionsHegel answered by referring to hierarchy o The hierarchal structure of government meant that abuse by lower officials could be redressed by their superiors o Marx refuted this contention o He argued that hierarchy leads only to the punishment of officials who commit offense against the hierarchy itself it protects the officials when the hierarchy commits an offence against the peopleIn a capitalist society Marx said the role of the bureaucracy was to maintain the class distinctions and domination that sustained the rule of the business classThe bureaucracy must mask his domination by presenting itself as representing the general interesto To maintain this faade it must retain a certain degree of autonomy The bureaucracy will always act in the longterm interests of the capitalists class since its main purpose is to sustain the power of the dominant classThe concept of alienation is a major aspect of Marxs views he saw bureaucracy as one of the primary institutions responsible for it Bureaucracy is felt by most citizens as a distant impersonal and oppressive forceThe true nature of the bureaucracy is hidden from itself so that those occupying its posts view their jobs as essential rather than as oppressive or parasitic as MARX WOULD CONTENTHE CONCLUDES THAT DURING THE TRANSITION FROM FEUDALISM TO CAPITALISM THERE WAS A CONTEST FOR POLITICAL POWER IN WHICH HE STATE TOOK A RELATIELY AUTONOMOUS POSITION BUREAUCRACY WAS ABLE TO STAY ABOVE THE FRAY MORE OR LESS AND A GAIN AN ABNORMAL LEEL OF INDEPENENCE AND POLITICAL INFLUENCE MARX SAW BUREAUCRACY AS A PARASITITC BODY THAT DIDN NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THE PRODUCTIVE FORCES OF SOCEITY BUT RATHER FED OFF THE REST OF SOCIETY ITS REAL TASK BEING TO MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUOUnder communism exploitation of one class by another would end and therefore there would no longer be any need for institutions that sustained that exploitationNeoMarxistsThese theorists consider the modern capitalist state to have two primary functions 1 To foster capital accumulation meaning that the state passes politics that make it possible for capitalists enterprises to make profit 2 Ensure that the working class does not rise up and revolt against the dominant class o The state passes policies of legitimation to appease the working class without interfering with the accumulation of profits by capitalistsPort documented the common social origins and ties between these groups in Canada as evidence that public policy naturally tends to favour the dominant classesDo agree on the notion that the modern bureaucratic state is a threat to democracyCriticisms of Marxist Theory One of the basic problems with Marxs analysis is that he himself did not elaborate on his ideas in this area so they have been subject to a variety of interpretationsNeoMarxists have been criticized for trying to have their cake and eat it too
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