How necessary is bureaucracy? If we can agree that individuals need rules and regulations to live together, then there must also be a bureaucracy.
It is necessary. In fact, it is imperative that every organization has a chain of command in place for the different programs that are in place to comply with the vision and goals of the group. The problem is, like it has been discussed before on a similar forum, that the term "bureaucracy" has gotten a bad rap because of the people who have been in charge of an organization that have not done a good job. Just because of a few people who cannot figure out their role within a group does not mean that the job that they are meant to do is the enemy. In fact, a healthy employee/employer relationship is what drives the success of an institution. Therefore, yes, without an organizational map it would be impossible to comply with the everyday needs of the changing times. Bureaucracy, when is executed correctly, is highly effective.
I agree with other posts in considering the way that bureaucracy has become rather a negative word, symbolising expensive and unnecessary inefficiency. However, I do believe there is a genuine role for bureaucracy that can actually help rather than hinder good governance. I also think that bureaucracy is absolutely vital in the way that it helps ensure (in its best form) the smooth running of government. However, having said this, I do think that a lot of what passes for bureaucracy today is actually in need of serious revision to make it more efficient.
There is much to agree with in the above posts. I think it is necessary to point out, too, that regardless of the size of the group of people who are expected to live together and follow rules, the variety of people in that group is what mostly necessitates that bureacracy. For instance, a homogenous society like South Korea would not as many rules for all to live together as a heterogenous society such as the United States. The more unlike people you have together, the more rules and expectations must be in place and explained so that cultures, traditions, values, etc. can live together mutually and peacefully. Differences bring about conflict when there is no understanding and compromise.
As long as a society makes rules and sets expectations, it must have a bureaucracy as an agent of enforcement. That being said, here in America we often seem to make bureaucracy more important--and certainly more cumbersome and unwieldy--than the laws. There should be a healthy, proportional balance between the two.
My college roommate is very careful to make sure people understand she is a bureaucrat, not a politician. She works in a fairly high position for the Environmental Protection Agency out of an office in Washington, DC, but her position is that of one who helps to insure that rules and regulations are followed. Bureaucracy is necessary as soon as rules and regulations are established because it is the bureaucrats who publicize those rules and regulations and ensure that they are enforced, including the penalization of those who disobey. Any time people live together in groups large enough to require the development of structure and organizational expectations, the requirement follows for someone to make sure those rules are respected and obeyed. In a family group, the bureaucrat may also be the leader of the group. In a larger population, the bureaucrat becomes part of the specialization of roles.
Buearacracy might be said to have originated in China during the Sui and Tang Dynasties, then expanded during the Song Dynasty. The objective then, as now, was (at least in part) to have educated administrators to oversee various parts of government operation (another objective then was to overshadow the military aristocrats).
Rules and regulation are the province of government and do not of necessity require buearaucrats to administer them, say, perhaps, in a totalitarian dictatorship; a military is most handy in such a government.
The administration of policy and privileges in a fair government requires a buearaucracy: educated, knowledgable administrators who can oversee the workings of government fairly, responsibly and with dependability.
A good contemporary example of the role of buearucracy is departments of motor vehicles. They oversee the distribution of the privilege of operating a motor vehicle as well as enforcing the rules and regulations that attend that privilege.
Post 3 makes an excellent point. Bureaucracy has developed a pejorative connotation as it is associated with big government which is accordingly inefficient and wasteful. This is not always the case. The more members of a society exist, the more complex must be the system for enforcing its rules and protecting its citizens. It is easier to protect ten people than ten million people. So it is the size of the population which in essence makes a complex government system necessary.
Bureaucracy is necessary if (and only if) we want a large group of people to abide by a given set of rules. If we do not want or need this, bureaucracy is unnecessary.
Bureaucracies exist to enforce a set of rules on a group of people that is too large to be "policed" by a few leaders. For example, a bureaucracy becomes necessary in a company when there are too many employees to be supervised by one or two owners. At that point, there needs to be a system of management which is, in essence, a bureacracy.
The same thing applies to government. If a government wants to apply rules to a large group of people, it needs a bureaucracy. This is necessary once you get large and complex societies where the "ruled" are not in daily contact with those who make the rules. In such cases, there is a need for a bureaucracy that can take orders from above and apply them to the society as a whole.