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Office, 1719.

Bureaucracy is the organizational structure and set of regulations in place to control activity, usually in large organizations and government.

CONTENT : A - F , G - L , M - R , S - Z , See also , External links


Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author

A - F[edit]

  • In every bureaucratic system the shifting of responsibilities is a matter of daily routine, and if one wishes to define bureaucracy in terms of political science, that is, as a form of government—the rule of offices, as contrasted to the rule of men, of one man, or of the few, or of the many—bureaucracy unhappily is the rule of nobody and for this very reason perhaps the least human and most cruel form of rulership.
    • Hannah Arendt, "Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship," in Responsibility and Judgment (2003), p. 31.
  • Le courant des affaires devant toujours s'expédier, il surnage une certaine quantité de commis qui se sait indispensable quoique congéable à merci et qui veut rester en place. La bureaucratie, pouvoir gigantesque mis en mouvement par des nains, est née ainsi.
    • As routine business must always be dispatched, there is always a fluctuating number of supernumeraries who cannot be dispensed with, and yet are liable to dismissal at a moment's notice. All of these naturally are anxious to be "established clerks." And thus Bureaucracy, the giant power wielded by pigmies, came into the world.
    • Honoré de Balzac, Les Employés [The Government Clerks], 1838, trans. James Waring; also known as Bureaucracy, or, A Civil Service Reformer.
  • Bureaucracy is the epoxy that greases the wheels of progress.
    • James H. Boren, in When in Doubt, Mumble : A Bureaucrat’s Handbook (1972)
  • Our society is run by a managerial bureaucracy, by professional politicians; people are motivated by mass suggestion, their aim is producing more and consuming more, as purposes in themselves.

G - L[edit]

  • As specialists and bureaucrats, human beings become tools, able to make systems of exploitation and even terror function efficiently without the slightest sense of personal responsibility or understanding. They retreat into the arcane language of all specialists, to mask what they are doing and give to their work a sanitized, clinical veneer.
  • Bureaucracy destroys initiative. There is little that bureaucrats hate more than innovation, especially innovation that produces better results than the old routines. Improvements always make those at the top of the heap look inept.
  • Bureaucracy is ever desirous of spreading its influence and its power. You cannot extend the mastery of the government over the daily working life of a people without at the same time making it the master of the people's souls and thoughts.
  • There are more agriculture bureaucrats than there are farmers in this country.
  • Project management has long been discussed by corporate executives and academics as one of several workable possibilities for organizational forms of the future that could integrate complex efforts and reduce bureaucracy.... This approach does not really destroy the vertical, bureaucratic flow of work but simply requires that line organizations talk to the other horizontally so work will be accomplished more smoothly throughout the organization
  • My symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern.

M - R[edit]

  • The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.
  • Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism.
    • Mary McCarthy, "The Vita Activa", The New Yorker (18 October 1958)
  • A bureaucracy always tends to become a pedantocracy.
  • Bureaucracy can have dehumanizing effect upon employees, making them more like machines, especially those at the lower levels of the organizational hierarchy
  • It is increasingly clear that the fate of the universe will come to depend more and more on individuals as the bungling of bureaucracy permeates every corner of our existence.
    • Edna O'Brien, New York Times Book Review (14 February 1993)
  • Bureaucrats want bigger bureaus. Special interests are interested in whatever's special to them.
  • Earth is still going round the sun, and neither the dictators nor the bureaucrats, deeply as they disapprove of the process, are able to prevent it.
    • George Orwell, "Some Thoughts on the Common Toad," Tribune (12 April 1946)
  • When despotism has established itself for ages in a country, as in France, it is not in the person of the king only that it resides. It has the appearance of being so in show, and in nominal authority; but it is not so in practice and in fact. It has its standard everywhere. Every office and department has its despotism, founded upon custom and usage. Every place has its Bastille, and every Bastille its despot. The original hereditary despotism resident in the person of the king, divides and sub-divides itself into a thousand shapes and forms, till at last the whole of it is acted by deputation. This was the case in France; and against this species of despotism, proceeding on through an endless labyrinth of office till the source of it is scarcely perceptible, there is no mode of redress. It strengthens itself by assuming the appearance of duty, and tyrannises under the pretence of obeying.
  • In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.
  • Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.
  • Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. [...] The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.
  • If you are going to sin, sin against God, not the bureaucracy. God will forgive you but the bureaucracy won't.

S - Z[edit]

  • In sharp contrast to the modus operandi of swarm dynamics, political bodies are ill-equipped to protect the integrity of their components and lack the collective wisdom for synchronization. Instead, highly layered command-based systems invade, institutionalize, and indoctrinate society with centralized directives, straitjacket bureaucracies, and self-serving officialdom. These systems hungrily feast on what others have created, cannibalizing other people’s resources like a tribe of pragmatic headhunters.
    • L.K. Samuels, In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action, Cobden Press, (2013) p. 35
  • How easily we Indians see the several sides to every question! That is what makes us such good bureaucrats, and such poor totalitarians.
  • Bureaucracy is [...] simultaneously the most crippling of Indian diseases and the highest of Indian art-forms.
  • Bureaucracy and social harmony are inversely proportional to each other.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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