How necessary is bureaucracy? If we can agree that individuals need rules and regulations to live together, then there must also be a bureaucracy
9 Answers | Add Yours
Bureaucracy is necessary wherever there are large organizations. This applies to large governmental organizations but also to large business organizations. Whenever there are large numbers of people who have to follow a given set of rules, those rules must be administered by a bureaucracy. This is because it is too difficult for one person (or an informal network) to effectively administer a large number of people.
So, bureaucracy is necessary whenever you A) have a lot of people in an organization or society and you B) want/need them to all follow the same set of rules.
The term bureaucracy has a negative connotation, where people have associated it with inefficiency, cumbersome regulations and frustration. But as the above posters point out, how could you administer any large program or organization without multiple levels of decision making, large numbers of personnel and rules to govern them all? Social Security, for example, is a massive program used by millions of Americans, so there must be rules on who qualifies, for how many benefits, when and how much people must pay into it, then a system must be created to administer it all. To distribute billions per month in benefits, yes, requires a bureaucracy.
So the short answer to your question is that bureaucracy is not only necessary sometimes, it is inevitable.
I agree with #5 in that bureaucracy has gotten a bad rap because we associate the term with the people in charge who had, at one point or another, abused their rank or position within their organizations. However, anytime a group of people gets together, the need for a leader is imperative. In turn, the leader needs a team that can help achieve the goals of the group. Not everyone is willing, nor able, to be a leader or part of a leadership team. However, as part of a group, they should be safeguarded and given vital roles so that the group, as a whole, is strong. Therefore, there is definitely a need for a headquarters for leadership, and to safeguard the unity of the group.
There has to be someone in charge of any organization or society. We are not able to self-govern ourselves without someone or a group of people overlooking and guiding the whole process.
There is no question that there must be an organization of offices to deal with specific areas when running governments, military organizations, financial institutions, etc. However, the greatest problem with bureaucracies is that they are often created when they are not really needed because there are organizations in place which can effectively manage on their own. One example of this is the Federal Department of Education which dictates what state departments of education must do in certain circumstances. Worse than this is the fact that this federal bureaucracy has members in it who vote on issues about which they have little or no knowledge; then, they leave the state departments to deal with the problems.
Just think of all the people that bureaucracy gives a job to! No, seriously, whilst we can all think of bad examples of bureaucracy where pieces of paper or e-mails get shifted from one office to another, there is such a thing as "good" bureaucracy in theory, which is necessary to cope with the complex demands of international organisations. Interestingly, for a satirical take on bureaucracy, I just read Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, where one of the characters faces many interesting challenges in the "Circumlocution Office" which acts as a Victorian example of the horros of bureaucracy.
We’ve answered 288,525 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question