limitations of categorization, limiting assumptions, self-perpetuation, leveling effect, cost of controls, and anxiety.
Michael Crozier includes slowness, ponderousness, routine, and complications of producers causing frustrations to the members, clients, or subjects of an administrative organization.
The list of dysfunctions of bureaucracy is so long, contributed by countless scholars and critics, that it is difficult even to briefly refer to them here. Therefore the observations of Max Weber, Robert K. Merton, and Ralph P. Hummel only are summarized below.
In Economy and Society Max Weber observes that bureaucracy gives birth to a new species of human beings. Man’s social relations have been converted into control relations. Skills affirming the ascendancy of technical means whether of administration or production have replaced norms and beliefs of man concerning human ends.
Psychologically, the new personality type is that of rationalistic expert, incapable of emotion and devoid of will. Bureaucracy has created a person who is nothing but a little cog in a big machine. Language, once the means for bringing people into communication, has become the secretive tool of one-way commands, Administration has replaced politics (particularly democratic politics) – the method of publicly determining society-wide goals based on human needs.
Robert K. Merton has devoted considerable attention to the study of dysfunctions aspects of bureaucracy. He observes that
(i) Marx was right in saying that man is very largely controlled by his social relations to the instruments of production, and that bureaucratization entails the separation of individuals from the instruments of production.
(ii) Bureaucracy is an administration that almost completely avoids public discussion of its techniques, although there may occur public discussion of its policies.
(iii) Bureaucracy has developed “occupational psychosis” (Dewey’s notion) or “trained incapacity”
(Veblen’s concept). Trained incapacity refers to that state of affairs in which one’s abilities function
as inadequacies or blind spots. Actions based upon training and skills which have been successfully applied in the past may result in inappropriate responses under changed conditions.
(iv) Adherence to rules becomes transformed into an end-in-itself resulting in the process of displacement of goals by which “an instrumental value becomes a terminal value. This develops into rigidity, inability to adjust readily, formalism, and even ritualism.
(v) The in-group feeling (feeling of mutual solidarity) developed by the bureaucratic structures often leads the personnel to defend their entrenched interests rather than to assist their clientele and elected higher officials.
(vi) Bureaucratic officials effectively identify themselves with their way of life. They have a pride in craft which leads them to resist change in established routines.
(vii) There is stress on the depersonalization of relationships within the bureaucracy and with the public, causing tension in several ways.
(viii) Bureaucracy is organized as a secondary formal group structure designed to carry on certain activities which cannot satisfactorily be performed on the basis of primary group criteria. Tensions, however, are caused by the intrusion of primary group attitudes into it.”
Ralph P. Hummel’s Findings
Ralph P. Hummel has done a very detailed study of the negative features of bureaucracy. His conclusions are very informative and revealing because it is a many-dimensional study. For want of space, however, his views are being summarised here in bare outlines. The deformation that bureaucracy has wrought on the society and the individual has been summed up by Hummel in these words. “Socially, bureaucracy has cracked the unit of social relationship: two individuals relating to one another in reciprocity and relative equality. The bureaucratic relationship has trained us to look always upward toward superiors. Culturally, what we look to them for is the answer to the question of what is good or bad for us; bureaucracy has made it impossible to maintain – personal norms. Psychologically, the process of bureaucratization has destroyed the integrity of the individual made him into a being of dependency, and opening up his reservoir of human needs … to direct manipulation from outside. Linguistically, we have been trained to be mute and not talk back while becoming wide open to the imperatives flowing down the chain of command… In the end, it is bureaucracy itself that has produced the kind of dehumanizing human fragment – socially cippled, culturally normless, psychologically
dependent, linguistically mute, and politically powerless-that has become the economy’s favorite object of manipulation.”
Empirical studies conducted in several countries like India, the U.S.A., Western Europe (except West Germany), and several communist countries reveal that inefficiency, unresponsiveness, apathy, corruption remain the universal traits of the “ruling servants” (to use Merton’s phrase for bureaucrats). David Nachmias and David H. Rosenbloom observe, “While merit reforms have contributed to efficiency and Scientific Management approaches have fostered rational organization and better political direction, few if any democratic nations have totally escaped the overall dilemma. This problem is prevalent in countries of Eastern Europe. China and the Soviet Union as well where Communist Party officials are often vociferous in criticizing bureaucracy and bureaucratic tendencies. It may appear, therefore “that the problem of ensuring bureaucratic responsiveness is so critical as to lead overwhelmingly negative orientations towards public bureaucracies.”
It has been seen in the previous pages that in the modern age bureaucracy is inevitable and necessary. It has also been shown above that bureaucracy has for long been maligned and public orientation to
it has generally been negative. It is also true that in several countries a large number of public servants being capable and/or specialists could earn much more in the private sector than they do in public service. Why then they entered the public service and continued working there? The answer perhaps is available from a portrait of an American cabinet member J.A. Krug, Secretary of the Interior during the administration of President Truman. (written in 1946, yet fully relevant today).
He writes “why I work for the Government”, (only relevant portion quoted) “… It is that feeling of satisfaction which a 100,000 salary in the private industry couldn’t buy for me. And when I now have
because I am in public service, the most direct way of doing something that contributes to human welfare. For most of us, there are three things which can attract us to a job. One is the feeling that job is worth doing. Another is providing security for our family and ourselves. The third is the desire to accumulate wealth. The first two combined are the motives which fit the majority of us …”
“That is true. I just happen to think the satisfaction of public service is greater and more direct.”
John A Veig rightly concludes his discussion of American bureaucracy (equally applicable to all bureaucracies) with the subheading ‘Fact over Fiction’, in these words, “Granted that every governmental bureaucracy contains its share of drones and dullards of self serves and time-servers, of minor tyrants and soulless automatons these comprise all told but a fraction of all public employees. Man for man and woman for woman, there is no reason for believing them to be different from their fellow Americans who are self-employed or work in the private industry ….,”
“…… American democracy has thousands of exceptionally gifted and devoted employees who not only make no fuss about being bureaucrats but, on the contrary, are proud of their status and grateful for their task ….”