How necessary is bureaucracy? If we can agree that individuals need rules and regulations to live together, then there must also be a bureaucracyHow necessary is bureaucracy? If we can agree...

How necessary is bureaucracy? If we can agree that individuals need rules and regulations to live together, then there must also be a bureaucracy

How necessary is bureaucracy? If we can agree that individuals need rules and regulations to live together, then there must also be a bureaucracy

Expert Answers
stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator
The answer to your question lies in the first phrase of the second sentence. If individuals need rules and regulations, there need to be people in positions that allow them to create the rules and regulations, people who are able to evaluate the ability of the rules and regulations to accomplish the purpose for which they are intended, people who can insure that the general population is informed regarding the requirements, people to enforce the rules and regulations, and people to punish those who disobey. All those people make up the bureaucracy! One of the challenges of living in a democratic society is accepting that it takes a long time and the involvement of many individuals to make it work. As we recognize the rights of all those folks to express their viewpoints and work to create a structure that will best serve the most people, the bureaucracy becomes the mechanism that allows work to get done.
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.


M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Bureaucracy is a 'necessary evil' in today's world. Ideally, people would be able to regulate themselves without the need for excessive regulations and laws. Of course, this is not human nature and certainly not the nature of our modern world. Therefore, we need bureaucracy to help regulate and protect the citizens. This type of system often involves slow changes and a lot of red tape, but it does work. It is hard to think of a solution to many of the problems with have with bureaucracy because we need a governing body. While I agree with post 2 about the necessities of a governing body, I don't view the system in the same positive light.
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
We need bureaucracy because we live in a complex world. If you are referring to government bureaucracy, our society requires regulations and services to protect the citizens. This means rules and a chain of the command. In the business world as well, the larger an organization gets the more bureaucracy is needed. It does not have to be the enemy of progress. I think that smart bureaucracy does exist. Part of the success is when people at lower levels have some authority, so that everything does not revolve around red tape.
lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.