Bureaucracy in Public Service

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As Weber noticed nearly a century ago, with the rationalization of society, bureaucracy becomes inevitable (Weber, 1968/1921) and in the contemporary society, bureaucracy – whether private or public – is ubiquitous. Without it, few of the routine features of our modern society would be possible; the collection of taxes and the production and distribution of goods and services, for example, would be difficult, if not impossible. (Dandeker, 1990) Bureaucracies control people by replacing human judgement with nonhuman technology, thus creating a formalistic impersonality of the system. Even bureaucracy itself can be seen as a huge nonhuman technology that functions more or less automatically. Rules, regulations, and institutional structures replace the adaptability of human decisions, that is, employees of bureaucratic organizations generally follow the rules and regulations in a predetermined sequence instead of evaluating each case separately. They must get their jobs done in a certain way by a certain time without mistakes, and the role of informal systems of human action is diminished by the highly formalized structures. Bureaucracy controls not only employees of an organization but her clients as well. An organization provides services and one must apply for the services on a specific form by a specific date. One will receive those services only in a certain way and under strict conditions. (Ritzer, 1998) Client categories used by organizations decide what information a client is supposed to provide, and this information will generate a denial or a grant of a specific requested service. (Snellen, 1998) Although bureaucracy is present in both public and private organizations, there are large differences between the two types of organizations and the services they deliver. The first difference is the monopolistic character of public organizations, i.e., often a citizen does not have a choice between different public organizations (as is the case with private...
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