The Case for Bureaucracy Notes
calls it a “public administration polemic”—controversial argument, may not be very popular, he believes in public administration.-conclusion:
believes that bureaucracy performs surprisingly well in the U.S. There is a wide gap between the reputation/perception of bureaucracy and when
you actually look at it; best and brightest choose not to go into it which is a negative.
-defines bureaucracy as the institutions of public administration in America; anyone paid out of public funds.
Opponents of Bureaucracy:
3 primary topics of criticism from the lit.
1. Poor Performance: Market Orriented Economist (distrust public ownership, opposed to govt intervention in private marketplace,
creates drag on productivity), Public Choice Economist (instead of responding to market, we are dependent on a single sponsor, makes costs
inflated and false demands, consequence is unlimited budget expansion), and Sociologists (says it works against itself by obsessive conforming
to rules-puts them ahead of ends)
2.Excessive Power: our bur. is too big and powerful, creates an elitist bias who want to protect what’s theirs, Iron Law of Oligarchy,
3. Oppression of the Individual: treats individuals poorly, creates dependency, specialization creates boring routines, suppresses
individuality, fear of failure ruining career, discretion not used, clients treated like cases not people.
Supporters of Bureaucracy
: much less information about the positives
Bureaucracy bashers (bureaucracy isn’t bad, but the non-stop bashing makes it seem that way), Exaggeration of problems (go
overboard on the problems and never admit when it is working), Argue that government does work (many examples where gov’t is successful),
and Individual vs institutional (lots of people doing great work in anonymity, instead we hear about the institution and its failings).
-4 Myths about American Bureaucracy: determinism
(think all are same and will behave in the same way),
says all are discriminatory and are biased towards poor/minorities),
business is better
(conservative criticism, pro-business and anti-govt,
assumes businesses are better performers), and
bureaucracy is backwards (
they fight change and have a dedication to the status quo,
change must be imposed on them from the outside, fail to innovate unless forced).
why we perceive bureaucracies failing?
Our expectations are not always realistic, believe that we can solve any problem (replacement for oil
example), if we assume progress is inevitable and assign it to govt, we expect insoluble problems to be solved and hand over that job of solving
to the bureaucracy—set up for fail. Challenges:
-vague and competing goals (same job/agency given opposing tasks), want them to have discretion and accountability.
-competition between various levels of govt