• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What insights does bureaucratic theory give us about how government should be organised and what it should attempt to do?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What insights does bureaucratic theory give us about how government should be organised and what it should attempt to do? What is the Bureaucracy? Public resource allocation on a national scale inevitably creates significant requirements for administration. Therefore, even adopting the minimalist or "Night-watchman" conception of the state, it is clear that some level of administrative civil service is an inescapable part of government. The ideal of the liberal-pluralistic-democratic conception of bureaucracy is of a permanent professional, meritocratic civil service, which is both anonymous and non-partisan, and serves as a source of balanced advise, and an efficient mechanism for implementing and administering government policies. Conceptions of Bureaucracy Though there are many differing conceptions of how a liberal-pluralist bureaucracy actually works, there is nearly universal agreement that in reality, the bureaucracy functions quite differently to the efficient Weberian ideal. Downs's pluralist model of bureaucracy stresses the organisational limitations of a hierarchical bureaucracy. ...read more.

Middle

In a bureaucracy this is best achieved by increasing the size of the agency, since increased size leads to more prestige, more responsibility, higher remuneration, more perks and greater scope for promotion. Therefore, an individual bureau will seek to maximise its size (budget) within the constraints set by the controlling political authority. If the external authority is weak or fragmented, as is often the case in western democracies, or lacks detailed information on the costs faced by a department, then it can be relatively easy for a determined bureaucracy to increase its size. Consequences of Bureaucracy Bureaucracy may be seen as economic activity, since it uses inputs, processes them, and produces an output. However, virtually all economic processes ultimately exhibit diminishing returns to factor inputs, causing marginal benefits to drop below marginal costs. If rational bureaucracies have an incentive to maximise their budgets, and are subject to weak or fragmented political control, then it is highly likely that they will continue to expand their output of services, beyond the point where social benefits equal social costs, creating waste. ...read more.

Conclusion

Given that political control is inevitably weakened every time that a new political agent is given responsibility for the department, it may prove to be impossible to keep a bureaucracy under firm control. Therefore, if radical inefficiency is to be avoided in government, the scope of activities that bureaucracies are responsible for administering must be severely curtailed. Where bureaucracies are permitted, the lines of political control must be very clearly drawn to ensure that there are clear chains of command, otherwise a bureaucracy may seek to weaken oversight by playing political agents against each other (See "Yes Minister" and "Yes Prime Minister"). Essentially, this boils down to the Thatcherite critique of bureaucracy - all departments are too large, and too inefficient. Therefore, government should only seek to supply those goods/services which the free market is completely incapable/unwilling to supply - pure public goods. Seminar 5: "The Machine": The Bureaucracy & The Core Executive ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Politics essays

  1. Using All the Information In This Section and the Results In the Table Attempt ...

    The elector, as The Daily Mail writes, has to keep various issues in mind before selecting which candidate to vote for but the most significant one would of course be the issue of the Boer War and the conservatives were doing all they could to exaggerate the greatness of the

  2. Explain and evaluate Locke's theory of government

    state of nature leads to obligation about establishment of political power and government (Locke J., Two Treatise of Government, Yale University Press, p. 142). So in order to understand Locke's theory of government, we first need to know the state of nature.

  1. Free essay

    Outline the principal sources of authority available to US presidents. How similar is executive ...

    He can reward significant supporters, as Bush did with his appointment of James Baker as secretary of state. In addition to this, he can build support amongst other factions of the country by keeping his cabinet diverse. This tactic can especially be used to strengthen links with racial groups and women.

  2. 'Liberal pluralist views of policy making are hopelessly naïve.' Discuss.

    Reformed pluralism concedes that access to political agenda is not always open. They accept that government-interest relations are often institutionalized to reduce conflicts and make producing policy easy, excluding certain groups and forming policy community (Smith 1990). A policy community is an institutionalized form of pressure group-government relationship that favors certain interests (Hill 1997:72).

  1. Democratic Processes.

    Labour also believes that people from different social classes should get on and try to work together and that there should be no 'class' system i.e. rich and poor. Finally because labour wants to help the poor one of their ideology is to tax the richer people in order to help the poor.

  2. Tobacco Regulations in Canada and the US.

    Deluging society with decades of advertising on television, in magazines, movies, radio, and billboards identified cigarettes with sex, youth, freedom, and vitality. The tobacco companies were not only aware of the dangers of smoking and kept it from their consumers, they coerced their customers and did so with the help of the government.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work