a : a body of nonelective government officials
b : an administrative policy-making group
: government characterized by specialization of functions, adherence to fixed rules, and a hierarchy of authority
Examples of BUREAUCRACY
- She was fed up with all the red tape and bureaucracy.
- Both candidates pledge to simplify the state's bloated bureaucracy.
- As Europe slipped deeper into the war, the uranium panel twiddled its thumbs. It was so mired in bureaucracy that by the spring of 1940, it had managed to approve only the $6,000 in research funds earmarked for Fermi and Szilard, so they could purchase uranium and graphite for their fission experiments. —Jennet Conant, Tuxedo Park, 2002
- In recent books and articles a small but outspoken chorus of former CIA case officers has portrayed the once proudly swashbuckling agency as a timid, politically correct bureaucracy, overly concerned with being held to account by the press and Capitol Hill. —Evan Thomas, Newsweek, 29 Apr. 2002
- Proving that even lumbering federal bureaucracies can move quickly when they have to, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) last week took advantage of Congress' extended holiday break to introduce its long-awaited—and, perhaps, long-dreaded—ergonomic standards. —Editor & Publisher, 27 Nov. 1999
Origin of BUREAUCRACY
First Known Use: 1818
Other Government and Politics Terms
bureaucracy noun (Concise Encyclopedia)
Professional corps of officials organized in a pyramidal hierarchy and functioning under impersonal, uniform rules and procedures. Its characteristics were first formulated systematically by Max Weber, who saw in the bureaucratic organization a highly developed division of labour, authority based on administrative rules rather than personal allegiance or social custom, and a rational and impersonal institution whose members function more as offices than as individuals. For Weber, bureaucracy was a form of legalistic domination inevitable under capitalism. Later writers saw in bureaucracy a tendency to concentrate power at the top and become dictatorial, as occurred in the Soviet Union. Robert K. Merton emphasized its red tape and inefficiency due to blind conformity to procedures. More recent theories have stressed the role of managerial cliques, occupational interest groups, or individual power-seekers in creating politicized organizations characterized by internal conflict.
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