The term, ‘Bureaucracy’ is made by French word bureau (office) and Greek word kratos (rule). Bureaucracy refers to a body of administrative officials that assists the government and plays important role in running public institutions. Bureaucracy is one of the most significant bodies of modern society. This paper intends to discuss the bureaucracy and further examines what is wrong and right with it along with discussing views of eminent scholars Ralph Hummel and Charles Goodsell.
Bureaucracy is a powerful body that affects the life of people and society in larger perspectives. Along with affecting people, it affects every other aspect like industry, agriculture, service and every other sector. There are some problems with the working of bureaucracy and these problems should be removed in order to make bureaucracy more efficient. Eminent scholars Ralph Hummel and Charles Goodsell, in their recently written books, thoroughly discuss about bureaucracy and present relevant evaluation about the same. Both these authors present a realistic analysis of the subject but their views are dissimilar and they come with different conclusions about the working of bureaucracy. Hummel and Goodsell have their own perspectives to see bureaucracy and their views are presented in their books in a well elaborated manner.
Problems with working of Bureaucracy and solutions
Bureaucracy is one of most significant concepts of human brain and this has gained utmost importance in a post modern world. The efficient working of bureaucracy has helped in solving several issues of our society. There are still some issues with bureaucracy and these are required to be removed in order to make bureaucracy more efficient and result yielding. Red Tapism is the biggest problem with bureaucracy that people face. Bureaucrats treat common people like their subordinates and as Hummel says, they do not respect and give them due regards. Their working on certain patterns creates problems for people.
Corruption, lack of transparency and attitude towards people are some other issues with the working of bureaucracy that directly affect the interest of people and the society in substantial manner. Since bureaucrats are policy makers and hold higher positions, it becomes really difficult for people to take any action against bureaucrats. Bureaucracy should be made friendlier to the people and also it should be made more responsible towards people and the society. The bureaucracy should also be made more transparent as well as answerable to the people.
There should be a mechanism to address grievances of people where bureaucracy is involved. People also should be aware about their human and other rights and they should be more aware about workings of bureaucracy. Illiteracy is a major reason behind the violation of people’s rights and it is inevitable to make them literate so that they could know and exercise their rights.
Goodsell in his book, “The Case for Bureaucracy: A Public Administration Polemic” presents a strong defense about bureaucracy and its workings. He opines that bureaucracy is very competent, solution oriented, responsive and human. Goodsell considers bureaucracy as very progressive, builder of the society, farsighted, impartial and a body that is competent enough to handle any situation. Goodsell does not hesitate in blaming public and press for representing the wrong image of bureaucracy. He says that such criticism affects the working capacity and morale of bureaucracy and discourages it to perform.
Goodsell views bureaucracy with a broader perspective. He includes almost public servants of the country in bureaucracy. His vies appears to be a bit impractical as he suggests even garbage men, teachers and policemen as bureaucrats. It appears that Goodsell wants to present good image of bureaucrats by giving them credits of the works that others do. Goodsell gives credit to bureaucrats for all performances and good works. He uses data to corroborate his version. This data includes research, meta-analysis, different surveys and various studies.
Goodsell asks typical questions in his survey like how people consider the performance of police department ‘good’, ‘fair’, ‘outstanding’ or ‘adequate’. Though this method seems to be more practical when we compare it with the approach of Hummel but there are still some lacunas in research of Goodsell. The people who participated in these surveys may not understand or answer all questions properly. People also live in different circumstances and what is right for some may not be right for everybody. It is also possible that some people suffered with the behavior or policies of government while others managed to deal with the situation because of their connections.
Hummel in his book, “The Bureaucratic Experience: A Critique of Life in the Modern Organization” suggests that bureaucracy itself is one of most serious problems that we are facing today. Hummel says that bureaucracy is inhuman and dehumanizes the organizations. He adds that bureaucrats work in same manner as machines do. Bureaucratic brains treat humans as if they are not humans but only cases, the same like machines. He says that bureaucracy affects the psychology, responsibility and capacity of decision making of its functionaries in a negative way. Hummel says that working of bureaucracy causes conflicts in their own minds as well as between the minds of bureaucrats and the people they deal.
Hummel written book appears to be completely in contradiction with what is written by Goodsell. Hummel criticizes bureaucracy, its workings and its mechanism. Hummel says that bureaucracy works in the same manner as machine works. He sounds right when he says that bureaucracy is inhuman and works on certain patterns like machines. Hummel, unlike Goodsell, recognizes bureaucracy in a hierarchical system with specified structure of norms and certain manners for dealing with people.
Unlike Goodsell, who conducts and presents a study in order to corroborate his version of the story, Hummel presents versions of some famous sociologists, psychologists, and political analysts. He appears to be giving more credence to experts and relies heavily on psychiatric fallacies. His methodology is not considered very right by several people and he is blamed to be preoccupied about bureaucracy. His arguments are intended to prove his version that bureaucracy dehumanizes and does not respect individuals and their views.
Having observed the succinct view about the working, problems and solutions of bureaucracy along with the views of two eminent scholars on this subject, it can be concluded that bureaucracy is one of most powerful and significant bodies in modern society. There are some problems with the working of the bureaucracy which should be addressed in order to enhance its significance and relevance. Bureaucracy can serve the society in more effective way if all the related issues are duly addressed and people are aware about their rights.
Goodsell, Charles T. The Case for Bureaucracy: A Public Administration Polemic, 3rd ed. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House, 1993.
Hummel, Ralph P. The Bureaucratic Experience: The Post-Modern Challenge. New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2008.