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The set of government employees who write, implement, and enforce regulations set under their purview by appropriate legislation. Examples of bureaucratic organizations in the United States include the IRS, the Department of Justice, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Max Weber argued that bureaucrats have no interests of their own, and that their incentives are identical to those of the state. Karl Marx, on the other hand, believed that bureaucrats protect themselves and their own positions ahead of the state. The term can have a negative connotation depending on its use.


a structured ORGANIZATION formed to achieve specified goals. The term is commonly used in a pejorative sense to refer to those organizations which appear to have an excessive number of levels in the HIERARCHY, where job roles are narrow and sharply defined and where rules are rigidly adhered to, whatever the circumstances.

As developed by German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920), however, the term is used to apply to all organizations which include the following features: clearly defined jobs; a hierarchy; a set of rules to govern operations; employees who are appointed (not elected) to posts which constitute their main occupation; and a system of promotion. In Weber's view personal emotions should not enter into the running of the bureaucracy. Weber viewed the bureaucratic organization as a distinctive feature of the modern world. In contrast to traditional societies, the bureaucracy involved a clear separation of home and work life.

In his writing on bureaucracy Weber pioneered the analytical device of the ‘ideal type’ as a means of identifying the essential features of a phenomenon. The features outlined above constitute the essential features that are present to a greater or lesser extent in bureaucracies. The notion of ideal type has no evaluation or prescriptive connotations.

Subsequent research has questioned Weber's contention that the bureaucracy is a highly efficient form of organization. The emphasis on following the rules can deflect employees' attention from the efficient or effective production of goods and services (see GOAL DISPLACEMENT).

American sociologist Alvin Gouldner (1920 – 80) identified three types of bureaucracy in terms of the function and observance of rules:

  1. mock bureaucracy, where rules are imposed from outside the organization, e.g. by legislation, and where all or most employees, including managers, evade or ignore them;
  2. representative bureaucracy, where rules are supported by all organization members, and hence are willingly obeyed;
  3. punishment-centred bureaucracy where rules are enforced by one group upon another in the organization, using punishments to achieve compliance. This approach can lead to CONFLICT.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Gezi Park protests, while following the first two stages of a social movement as described by Blumer and revised by Christiansen, emergence and coalescence, failed to accomplish the third stage of bureaucratization.
The results of their study show differences between the two types of managers as regards bureaucratization and personnel flexibility, with higher levels of bureaucratization and lower levels of perceived personnel flexibility in public organizations.
Some of the common themes that emerge concern the extent to which Akbarian thought and debates about it permeated Sufism and intellectual life everywhere; the process of transition from initiatic to hereditary modes of transmitting Sufi authority, which was never seamless or irreversible; the continuity of spiritual modes across geographic and dynastic boundaries; and the ways in which the Ottoman conquest and rule influenced Sufism--be it through patronage of Sufi elites, or the cultivation of the annual pilgrimage, or the bureaucratization of the ulema and the law.
In this way bureaucratization profoundly modifies market functioning, as government interference opens up opportunities for a new kind of "political" entrepreneur (Facchini, 2006, pp.
Bishops were further hampered by a growing bureaucratization of chancery offices that made taking decisive action more difficult.
Alienation may be viewed as a result of pervasive social forces beyond school, such as specialization, mobility, bureaucratization, capitalism, or other features of the modern world that fragment human experience (Newmann, 1981).
These broad areas were: decision-making, labor processes, bureaucratization, and the extent to which participants perceive burnout to be a private or public issue.
The primary thread through Weber's work on leadership dynamics, politics, and social theory is the concept of rationalization and bureaucratization.
The bureaucratization (2) of the AIDS industry has created a disconnect between grassroots advocates and professionals, producing apathy on the part of highly impacted segments of the Latino population and making community mobilization difficult.
Standing and Daly ask a commitment difficult to carry out in an environment of "marketization" and bureaucratization of care, such as outlined by Folber, and the near absence of a collective to help sustain such a commitment.
To the extent that green theory and practice participate in this bureaucratization of the political imagination, to that extent they are committed to business-as-usual.
I worry, too, that given its susceptibility to bureaucratization and the spinning out of enormous--and not inexpensive--programmatic webs, the RCIA might collapse under its own weight.