Skip to main content

Bureaucracy

Go Search
Home
About
New Atlas
Atlas, A-Z
Atlas Maps
MPP/MPA Programs
Subjects
Core Topics
Illustrative Courses
Topic Encyclopedia
Concept Dictionary
Competencies
Career Tips
IGOs
Best Practices Project


 

Bureaucracy

A type of administration organized on the principle of hierarchy of authority, is expert and rule-oriented, upholds the rule of law and principles of procedural fairness, and is formal in that records are kept and work is verified.

(Sutherland, Sharon L. 1993. "The Public Service and Policy Development." In Governing Canada: Institutions and Public Policy, edited by Michael M. Atkinson. Toronto: Harcourt Brace.)

------------------

The ideal type of bureaucracy, as set out by Max Weber, clearly defines organizational characteristics that have remained relevant through the years. Public organizations have undergone many changes in the last century, but they are still based on the Weberian legacy of clear hierarchical order, concentration of power among senior officials, formal structures with strict rules and regulations, limited channels of communication, confined openness to innovation and change, and noncompliance with the option of being replaceable.

According to Golembiewski and Vigoda (2000), bureaucracies embody a firm hierarchy of roles and duties, a vertical flow of orders and reports, accountability to highly ranked officers, fear of sanctions and restrictions, and sometimes even a lack of sufficient accountability dynamics.

Sharon L. Sutherland ("The Public Service and Policy Development," in Michael M. Atkinson, ed. Governing Canada: Institutions and Public Policy. Toronto: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Canada Inc, 1993. P.81.) defines bureaucracy as a type of administration organized on the principle of hierarchy of authority, is expert and rule-oriented, upholds the rule of law and principles of procedural fairness, and is formal in that records are kept and work is verified on the same principles as it was performed.

References

 

Sutherland 1993, 81. 

 

Vigoda, Eran. 2002. “From Responsiveness to Collaboration: Governance, Citizens, and the Next Generation of Public Administration,” Public Administration Review 62 (5): 527-540.

 


Important Notices
© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance