Bureaucracy: Definition, Theory, Development and Control

Definition:

The word bureaucracy is derived from the French word bureaucratic which is again derived from bureau. The dictionary meaning of bureaucracy is a system of government in which most decisions are taken by state officials rather than by elected representatives. This definition of bureaucracy is somewhat exaggerated because in most of the modern states the representatives take majority decisions and top government officials act as advisers to the representatives.

The definition given by Hague, Harrop and Breslin appears to be more relevant. “The bureaucracy is the institution that carries out the functions and responsibilities of the state”.

In another definition the bureaucracy has been termed as a government run or managed by permanent officers, In other words, it can be said that bureaucracy is that type of government or administration which is primarily manned by some permanent officers recruited by a body which acts independently. Though this definition does not embrace all aspects, it conveys the real situation.

We can further say that bureaucracy is a government of permanent officers. They act as the advisers to the ministers but bear the burden of policy-making and policy implementation and they are responsible to their immediate boss. The boss may be a bureaucrat or a minister or any other person appointed by the government.

Weber’s Theory of Bureaucracy:

Origin and Definition:

Marx said that the modern state was the outcome of capitalist development. But Weber does not agree with this view of Marx. The State existed and even developed before the development of modern capitalism. But there is an important contribution of capitalism. It created a huge machinery for the management of public and private administration. Before the advent of capitalism this gargantuan administrative structure did not have any existence. It is the considered opinion of Weber and today many share this view of Weber.

Marx said that bureaucratic organisation was parasite in the state. He did not regard it as an integral part of society. But Weber here again differed. He said that centralised bureaucratic administration was an integral part of modern state structure and it is inevitable. Weber has clearly stated in his Economy and Society: Vol. II that  “The growing complexity of the administrative task and the sheer expansion of the scope increasingly result in the technical superiority of those who have had training and experience and will thus inevitably favour the continuity of at least some of the functionaries.

Hence, there always exists the probability of the rise of a special, perennial structure for administrative purposes, which of course means for the exercise of rule” (emphasis added). Weber has clearly stated the origin and inevitability of bureaucratic organisation and rule. The increasing complexities of modern admi­nistration only could be tackled by bureaucracy.

Characteristics of Bureaucracy:

In Economy and Society Max Weber has pointed out some features of bureaucracy:

1. In bureaucracy office is arranged or ordered hierarchically like a pyramid. That is, officers hold office according to their rank. All the officers are subject to the higher authority.

2. Bureaucratic system is characterised by impersonal and written rules. The entire administration is run by impersonal authority and the authority is vested in rules. In other words, in bureaucratic system, human appeal has no importance. Laws and rules conduct the administration. All the decisions are taken on the basis of rules and their methodical application.

3. All the officials are recruited strictly on the basis of proven efficiency and potential competence. Officials are given specialist training. For the purpose of recruitment, qualifications are fixed; of course there may be provision for relaxation.

4. Each official, in bureaucracy, has special or demarcated task. That is, there is clear division of work and each official will have to strictly observe it. The tasks are -so demarcated that it involves fall time employment.

5. The separation of officials from ownership of the means of administration. It means that the officials will simply conduct the administration and they cannot claim the ownership of the means of administration.

6. The officials who perform their duties competently will have security in services salaries and promotion. In other words, in bureaucracy efficiency, merit and honesty are duly rewarded. There is also the scope of recognition of seniority.

In every modern state and administration bureaucracy is practically indispensable. Without bureaucracy no administration can be run properly and efficiently. Even the ordinary management of administration is not possible. Why is bureaucracy completely indispensable? Weber has stated the reason in the following words: “The decisive reason for the advance of bureaucratic organisation has always been its purely technical superiority over any other form of organisation. The fully developed bureaucratic apparatus compares with the non- mechanical modes of production.

Precision, speed, unambiguity, knowledge of the files, continuity, discretion, unity, strict subordination, reduction of friction and of material and personal costs—these are raised to the maximum point in the strictly bureaucratic organisation”. Modern economic organi­sation and the administrative structure have reached such a stage that bureaucracy has established its indispensability. Without bureaucracy the administration will suffer and also will suffer general public.

Complexities in modern administration and economic organisation have no doubt made the bureaucracy indispensable. But Weber has attributed another reason to its growth and it is the largeness of modern state. The ancient Greek city-states were small in size and the administration and economic systems were very simple.

Naturally the citizen of ancient Greek city-states did not feel the need of bureaucracy Weber writes: “It is obvious that technically the large state is absolutely dependent on a bureaucratic basis. The larger the state and more it is a great power, the more unconditionally is this the case, the greater the zones of friction with the outside the more urgent the needs for administrative unity at home become the more this character is inevitably and gradually giving way formally to the bureaucratic structure”.

When Weber published his Economy and Society in the first decade of the last century there was no existence of today’s large bureaucratic structure. Nor was there power politics as it is today. Naturally, bureaucracy’s importance was not so keen as it is today Even a small state of Asia or Africa cannot exist without bureaucracy This is chiefly due to the inevitability of technicality of administration. We cannot think of any modern administration which is not technical in character.

Models of Bureaucracy:

Some political scientists have devised few models of bureaucracy. We shall discuss here three main models. The first one is rational administrative model Secondly conservative power bloc model and, finally government over supply model.

The above mentioned three models are explained below:

(i) Rational-Administrative Model:

The first model of bureaucracy is rational-administrative model. Bureaucracy is run by rational administrative machine and because of the rationality Weber calls it an ideal type. We have just now analysed Weberian theory of bureaucracy which states that it is hierarchical, the area of each official is strictly demarcated, it is based on rules and laws, the authority of officers is impersonal and appointments are done on the basis of recruitment and through open and public examination. Seniority, experience and efficiency are recognised and duly rewarded. These are the reasons of why bureaucracy is an ideal type.

Because bureaucracy is rational it has earned tremendous popularity during the last one century and every state, both small and big, has adopted the bureaucratic mode of administration. It has also been asserted by Weber that bureaucratic authority or administration is superior to traditional or charismatic authority. The administration is, everywhere, being gradually bureaucratised. Weber believes that it is efficient and reliable. Above all, it is a rational method of administration.

The advance of democracy or the rapid growth of democratisation has considerably accelerated the growth of bureaucracy in recent years. People’s faith on traditional authority and charismatic authority began to fade away with the rise of democratisation.

They began to pin their hopes on an efficient and people’s welfare oriented administration, on experience it was found that only an efficient, experienced and permanent team of administrative staff can meet this need and ultimately people looked to the efficient, independent and neutral officials.

So we can say that the concept of rationality revolves around the ideas of efficiency, experience and neutrality. Some men today raise question about these qualities of bureaucracy. But there is no doubt that it is far better than the traditional or charismatic authority.

Rapid industrialisation has also made the bureaucratic form of administration a must for every industrial society. It is due to the reason that the management of large scale industries requires a particular class which is called managerial class—and this is another name of bureaucracy. Today many people call it managerialism. Following Weber, James Burnham also threw ample light on managerialism in his work, The Managerial Revolution, published more than after two decades of Weber’s death.

All these sufficiently strengthen-the rational aspect of bureaucratic adminis­tration. We are at the threshold of the twenty first century and in this age there has arisen an immense importance if bureaucracy which has been accentuated by the rapid growth of industrialisation and globalisation.

(ii) The Power Bloc Model:

In our analysis of power theory we referred to the corporatist theory which deals with how big corporations in advanced capitalism are controlling political and economic power. Repetition of some arguments in this section is inevitable. Like Weber, Marx did not develop a well-knit theory of bureaucracy, but he was quite aware of its existence and importance in capitalist country.

He believed that bureaucracy was a machine used by the bourgeoisie for the attainment of the goals. “He was thus concerned less with the bureaucratisation as a broader social phenomenon, but more with the class role played by the state bureaucracy. In particular, he saw the bureaucracy as a mechanism through which bourgeois interests are upheld and the capitalist system defended”.

We, therefore, find that in Weber’s analysis, bureaucracy has been viewed as a mechanism of administration whereas in Marxian analysis it has been seen as a mechanism of class rule. Bureaucracy and capitalists work in tandem for the furtherance of the economy controlled by capitalists. In some capitalist countries the socialist elements may be quite active and these create pressures upon the state authority to adopt pro-labour and pro-common people policies.

This attempt is thwarted by the top and experienced bureaucrats. These bureaucrats are members of the higher class and have received their education from the best schools and naturally they have, from the very childhood, developed strong affinity to their own class—the capitalist class. Ralph Miliband has said: “the social provenance and the education and class situation of top civil servants make them part of a specific milieu whose ideas, prejudices and outlook they are most likely to share and which is bound to influence their view of the national interests”.

Miliband further maintains that the top civil servants are conservative in their outlook and political ideology and this makes them very much close to the capitalist class. Wherever any anti-capitalist measure is going to be adopted the top bureaucrats of the state administration—by hook or by crook—scuttle the attempt.

Heywood concludes: “The major implication is that if senior bureaucrats are wedded to their interests of capitalism, a major obstacle stands or the way of any attempt to achieve socialism through constitutional means”. To sum up, it is the enormous affinity of the top bureaucrats of all advanced capitalist countries which has always foiled the implementation of pro-socialist or pro-labour policies.

It (bureaucracy) acts as a power bloc. Whether Weber was aware of it or not we do not know. Of course, in his time, bureaucracy was not used in abundant measure as a weapon to further the interests of the capitalist. It was generally concerned with the administration of the state. The socialist wave or feeling made bureaucracy more conscious and its role as a machine of class rule was sharpened.

(iii) Bureaucratic Over-Supply Model:

So far as bureaucracy is concerned there are two opposite views. The exponent of one view is Marx who has branded it as an instrument of class rule; the spokes­person of another view is the other German thinker Max Weber who believes that to tackle the complex of any modern administration the bureaucracy is an inevitable instrument.

According to Weber, bureaucracy is not a machine of class rule but a machine of administration. From this conception arises a different model which is known as bureaucratic over supply model. “Central to this model of bureaucracy is a concern with the interests and motivations of bureaucrats themselves”.

Bureaucracy is not only inevitable for the management of modern state but also it is the most rational choice. It is rational in the sense that no other better instrument has yet been devised to run efficiently and honestly the adminis­tration of a modern state. At least Max Weber thinks so. We have already discussed the rationality of bureaucracy.

There is another interpretation of the rational choice model/theory of bureaucracy. It is generally observed that men are self-interest seeking and bureaucrats are no exception. Whatever may be their rank and position all of them attempt to fulfill their personal interests and to that end they use and utilise all the legal and possible ways.

The fulfilment of self interests implies improvement of their position and rank, guarantee in service, favourable placement etc. They also want better scale of pay and other pecuniary benefits. As bureaucrats they do not neglect these aspects. Since bureaucrats are all rational human being it is quite natural that they will make attempts for the realisation of these objectives.

In 1971 William Niskane’s thought-provoking work—Bureaucracy and Represen­tative Government has dealt with this interesting aspect of bureaucracy. All bureaucrats, irrespective of their rank and images, try to build up their career. Career- building is a multifaceted idea, which includes improvement of position, higher salary, better placement etc. The bureaucrats try to achieve these keeping themselves within the legal framework and political structure-of society.

Neverthless, they very often adopt political tactics. The bureaucrats, particularly the departmental secretaries and top ranking officials, influence their political bosses—the ministers or representatives. The political bosses succumb to the bureaucrats because without them they will not be able to shoulder the burden of decision-making and policy implementing activities. In parliamentary system the ministers are completely dependent on the officials and the latter fully utilise this situation to satisfy their various needs. In almost all modern states this situation prevails.

Role of Bureaucracy:

Role in General Administration:

Following German sociologist Weber we have seen that bureaucracy is indispens­able for any modern state. This estimation of Weber has been more or less, accepted by political scientists outside the Marxist circle. Modern political scientists have found that its role may be divided into the following categories: in general administration, in policy making and policy implementing, in articulating and aggregating interests, in maintaining political stability, in development.

What is administration? It means the task of coordinating and implementing policy or decisions. Another meaning is to assist ministers or other top executives in the management of the general affairs of the state. It sometimes refers to mechanism and institutions of state government. Whatever may be the meaning of administration, it is the primary duty of bureaucrats of all parts of the globe to take the full responsibility of general administration.

The entire administration of state is under the control of bureaucracy. In parliamentary system the ministers are at the top of the administrative structure, but the real work is done by the bureaucrats. Admin­istrator requires experience, efficiency and technical knowledge.

The ministers do not generally possess these qualities. For obvious reasons, the burden of administration falls upon the bureaucrats. In modern states bureaucracy has expanded several times. Because of manifold reasons the importance and role of bureaucracy have enhanced immensely and it is the considered opinion of scholars that the importance and role cannot be undermined. It will go on increasing.

Policy Making and Implementing:

In liberal democracies there are president, prime ministers and ministers at the head of state administration and their chief task is to formulate policy. But in practice this task is done by the top bureaucrats. The ministers or president (as in USA) simply give the general outlines of a policy or a decision and on the basis of these guidelines the departmental officials formulate the policy or adopt the decision.

However, every such policy or decision must be endorsed by the ministers. Here the duty of the bureaucrats is to provide all facts and figures and the policy is formulated by the ministers and officials jointly. The officials must have their opinions but they must submit to the ministers because they are accountable to the legislature and the electorate.

This function relates to the neutrality of the officials. In almost all democratic particularly parliamentary systems the above noted role is the common feature.

But many critics feel that though the officials are neutral and offer advice to the ministers, in reality they play crucial role in policy making. The decision is actually taken by the officials and the ministers approve it. However, in the case of conflict of opinion, the view of the ministers prevails upon that of the official. Because of this situation modern state administration is called bureaucratic form of administration. In many states the top bureaucrats are all-in-all and the ministers are simply tools in their hands.

In the implementation of policy the officials are found to play a very significant role. Mere adoption of policy/decision does not make any sense or will be ineffective if it is not implemented. In this sector the ministers have no role to play though they shall be accountable to legislature and electorate for the non-implementation of the policy/decision.

Here, it is the primary duty of officials to see that the policy/decision once adopted must be implemented properly. If a policy remains unimplemented the ministers have the right to call for explanation from the officials who were in the charge of implementation.

There is another side of this function. The general administration of a state means policy making and policy implementation and the bureaucracy is in charge of this task. Some people say that policy implementation is more important than policy making. The excellence of the administration largely depends upon the implemen­tation of policy. Moreover, the interests of the ministers are intimately connected with the implementation of policy.

If a policy is not implemented they will have to give explanation to the electorate because before election they promised to make and implement a particular policy. Again, the failure to implement a policy or to take necessary action for implementation will create a lot of suspicion about the efficiency of the officials concerned. So the bureaucracy must take action.

Articulation and Aggregation:

In all political systems—particularly the liberal ones—interests are articulated and aggregated and these two functions are generally performed by political parties, pressure groups, interest groups and various other citizen bodies. But now-a-days these two functions are done by bureaucracy.

In our analysis of corporatist theory we have seen that, in advanced capitalism, bureaucracy is deeply involved in all the activities of the state and this involvement is increasing day after day. Both for policy formulation and policy implementation bureaucracy establishes direct contact with interest groups and different agencies. Bureaucrats come to know the needs of these groups and agencies and on the basis of their information policies are formulated. Bureaucracy also takes part in aggregating the interests of the groups and on the basis of aggregation the state authority decides its next course of action.

The interesting thing is that the ministers are not directly involved in these two functions. The bureaucrats do everything on behalf of the government. Moreover, in this age of specialisation the officials seek the advice of technocrats or doctors or engineers for the formulation of policy or for enactment of law. In USA and UK this is a very common practice and nobody sees anything abnormal in this practice. If bureaucracy finds any coincidence between the objectives of government and those of interest groups policy formulation or law making becomes easy.

Maintenance of Stability:

Bureaucracy acts as a powerful instrument for the stabilisation or maintenance of political system. In all parliamentary system this happens. In such systems one party or coalition of parties comes to power defeating the party in power. The change of party or government (in political sense) does not mean the change of all policies and the entire administration.

There shall be a continuity in administration and this continuity is efficiently maintained by bureaucracy. The bureaucrats make adjustments between new and old policies, and amend the old ones to suit the needs of the new government. But the continuity is not violently disturbed.

In developing countries the ministers are not efficient administrators (some of course, may be). These ministers depend on the officials who are trained and efficient persons. They provide the ministers with data, facts and materials with the help of which ministers form policies. The ministers also acquaint themselves with the objectives and internal affairs of the department.

The impartiality of the officials, in a considerable way, helps stabilisation of general administration. In some cases the anti-government elements and forces sometimes become active and these pose a threat to the very stability and normal functioning of government. In that situation the bureaucracy—with its experience, efficiency and loyalty to the political system— shields the system from imminent threat.

Development and Bureaucracy:

Definition of Development and Bureaucracy:

Development means a specified stage of growth. A change from one stage to a more desirable higher stage or it may mean a transition from one state of society to a higher state. “Development is a multidimensional process that normally connotes change from a less to a more desirable state” (Oxford Concise Dictionary of Politics). It also means increased economic efficiency and expansion of productive capacities. Hence when we talk about development, our main concern is economic development.

But in real sense development is a broad term. It includes social, political, cultural development. It has been found that when development in all these spheres takes place we can call it development.

After the Second World War (1939-45) a very good number of countries of Asia and Africa achieved political independence. But within a few years of their freedom (political) they realised that this political freedom could not ensure economic development. The traditional idea about development is that main component of development is investment.

But these states soon realised that even sufficient investment cannot bring about progress in the economic sector. Along with the funds, streamlining the administration is necessary; both investment and administration are equally responsible for development. When the question of administration crops up, bureaucracy enters into the picture.

Changing Role of Bureaucracy:

During the British regime ICS officers constituted the main part of Indian bureaucracy and they were mainly concerned with the maintenance of law and order. British rulers had no intention to make India economically self-sufficient. Naturally bureaucracy’s role in economic development during the British rule was practically a non-issue.

Again, bureaucracy’s role in development is a non-Weberian concept because Weber treated bureaucracy as a mechanism for the conduct of general administration. Nehru, (about bureaucracy) once said “fossilised in their mental outlook”. Even after freedom Indian bureaucrats could not free their minds and outlook from the British tradition.

It was strongly felt that besides the maintenance of law and order bureaucracy has another equally very important task and this is to achieve targets about development. This is called the changing role of bureaucracy. We have already pointed out that, without administration, investment or technology alone cannot reach the targets of progress—the involvement of administration at all stages of development is essential.

The administration must be responsive to the needs of society, must understands the socio-economic changes and urgency of the society. The British government did not use the administration for these purposes. That is why in the past-independence era the new role of bureaucracy has been strongly stressed.

Multifaceted Role:

Bureaucracy plays important role in the development of a country and this role is multifaceted:

(1) Development requires continuity in efforts and administration. If there is any break, development work and process will be affected. For this reason it is said that it is the duty of bureaucracy to provide leadership for the development work. The ministers are temporary executives and it is not possible for them to assume the full responsibility of development. The obvious result is the main burden of providing leadership for development falls on the bureaucracy.

(2) Development also requires coordination among the various departments of public administration and also a coordination between private and public administration. This task is to be performed by officials. In the field of development public and private administration must work jointly. It may be noted here that though both the sectors are jointly responsible the areas of both are separate or have been made separate.

(3) In order to make the changing role of bureaucracy effective it is necessary to restructure the society. During the British rule the bureaucracy’s main task was to maintain law and order and society was structured to that style. When the role changes it is desirable that restructuring of society is to be completed. It is the duty of bureaucracy to do the job effectively.

“Committed Bureaucracy”:

In recent years the term “committed bureaucracy” has received a wide circulation and the top political executives (president, prime minister etc.) of different countries are seriously thinking about employing bureaucracy for the purposes of development and this could not be done if bureaucracy’s loyalty exists somewhere. Let us clarify the point. If bureaucracy is not committed to the cause of development it would not be possible to reach the goal.

The Weberian model of democracy concentrates on the main functions of the maintenance of law and order and to run the administration. Though this role of bureaucracy is not relegated to insignificance, more importance is given to its role in development. From this approach the term committed bureaucracy has been coined. It is said that all the top ranking civil servants make attainment of development goal their prime objective.

If the bureaucrats fail to do this the political system will not realise the goal of progress. During the Great Depression of the 1930s the American president adopted several anti-depression measures and majority of them were declared by the Supreme Court as unconstitu­tional.

The president and other top political executives thought of a committed judiciary. Moreover, every party has its own programme and ideology and, coming to power, it wants to translate it into reality. This cannot be done if the bureaucracy is not committed. In the background of development, now-a-days, the commitment of bureaucracy to development has been stressed.

The term committed bureaucracy, in fact, originated in the United States during the period of Great Depression when the American president wanted to accelerate the pace of development through bureaucracy and this he did by forcing the bureaucracy to implement the New Deal measures.

Control of Bureaucracy:

Need to Control Bureaucracy:

Though Weber called bureaucracy as an inevitability and an integral part of state administration and though its seminal role in administration is recognised by many or almost all, the term bureaucracy is pejoratively used by many and these men are not ordinary people.

It has been perceived by many that bureaucratic administration very often inflicts harm upon the people. Its inordinate love for law or to act according to law, to ignore the prime interests of common people, arrogance, mis-behaviour with people, zeal to protect personal interests at the cost of the interests of society, corruption at all levels, particularly at high levels, unholy alliance between officials and politicians, non-accountability etc. have prompted many to strongly argue for measures which will control the bureaucracy.

It is important to note that if bureaucracy is not timely and properly controlled the general interests of the community will be endangered. There is also a widespread apprehension that an unchecked bureaucracy will demise representative form of government. Bureaucracy, it is true, runs (and in many cases efficiently) the administration but it is also the source of maladminis­tration. So we finally say that the need to control it is to be given utmost priority.

Means of Control:

The need to control bureaucracy has been felt almost by all. If it is not timely controlled the salutary effects will be eclipsed by its shortcomings which we have briefly stated. There are number of ways of controlling bureaucracy and the most important of them are stated below. In order to ensure accountability mechanisms shall be created. In the second place, politicisation of the bureaucracy shall be stopped. Finally, methods are to be devised to counteract the dominating tendency of bureaucracy.

Mechanism for Accountability:

To make bureaucracy accountable is the most effective way of controlling it. To whom shall it be accountable? It has been suggested that the bureaucracy shall be made accountable to the political executive, to the legislature/parliament, to the judiciary, to the public or to a body specially created for this purpose.

If the bureaucracy is hierarchically arranged (and it is generally done so) then the persons of the lower rank shall be accountable to the higher rank and in this way the process continues. The official of the topmost rank is responsible to the political executives, that is, ministers or president. In hierarchical system it is so arranged that none can deny the responsibility. Jurisdiction of everyone is clearly defined and the person in charge of the duty must accept the responsibility.

1. Accountability means answerability to some other person or body of persons or organisation or institution for the function or duty done. Duties or functions are clearly defined and the person must explain for the act done.

Particularly in parliamentary systems the secretaries or top bureaucrats are directly responsible to the political executives and the latter can call for explanations for any wrong done by the departmental head. This system is largely found in Britain, India and other parliamentary systems.

The control of the legislature is also an effective way. The ministers are responsible to the legislature. Naturally, the members of the legislature can call for explanation from the ministers and the latter, in turn, demand explanation from the officials. The members of the legislatures do it because they are also accountable to the electorate. In this way a chain of accountability works in parliamentary systems. But the crucial role is always played by the legislature.

The judiciary cannot directly exercise its control over the bureaucracy. But the citizens can seek the intervention of judiciary for any wrong done by the officials and the judiciary does it. Apart from this there are administrative laws or administrative tribunal. The powers of the officials are defined and in the case of any observation the executors of the administrative law take necessary action. The legislature of many countries has enacted separate laws to deal with the bureaucracy.

Accountability to the public is another way. There are different methods of such an accountability, one such method is Ombudsman. Scandinavian in origin, it was extended too many other states such as New Zealand, Australia, France and Britain. Ombudsman means the grievance officer. Throughout Europe ombudsman is a public officer whose chief function is to take action for the redressal of grievances.

When complains are lodged with ombudsman he investigates and after that takes necessary action. In a number of countries the system of ombudsman has been introduced though in different names. In some countries there have been instituted complaint cells to deal with the grievances of the public.

Finally, political parties, pressure groups or interest groups or mass media also play important roles in the fields of control. People can directly seek the help of mass media such as newspapers, periodicals, and electronic media. These, in turn, ventilate the grievances of the public and the state authority takes necessary steps. In democracy, parties and pressure groups are also found to be very active. They, on behalf of the public, communicate the grievances to the proper authority.

The political party pressure group or interest group perform the function of interest articulation and interest aggregation and this is very important. Though a person can himself do this, it is not always possible to do this job. The best mechanism is a party as, considering the election, parties take active interests about the genuine grievances of the public.

Politicisation of Bureaucracy:

The differences between top political executives and top administrators crop up if both belong to different political ideologies. In that case it becomes difficult for political executives to control the bureaucracy. To get rid of this trouble many suggest that top political executive should appoint persons to top posts who share his political and ideological standpoints. Simply stated, there shall be similarities between politicians and officials so far as views are concerned. This method will blur the distinctions between politicians and administrators.

The application of the above method is found in USA which is called “spoils system”. In the nineteenth century Andrew Jackson introduced this system and it still continues. Jackson replaced a large number of top officials by his own party men and even today American presidents do the same thing.

Though USA is the originator of the spoils system, many other liberal democracies have adopted the variants of the spoils system. In a complex and clandestine way prime ministers and some other top political executives appoint their own men to the crucial posts of administration.

In the eighties of the last century British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher did it and for this act she was strongly criticised by many. She was accused of Thatchering the administration. Politicization goes on in France. It has been estimated that large number of senior posts are filled up by the politicians.

Serious observers of modern public administration are of opinion that the neutrality of bureaucrats is not a fact at all, it is a myth. It is quite natural that as educated and politically conscious persons they have their own views and ideologies and nobody can force them to abandon these.

If there are ideological differences between the political executives and top administrators then clash of opinion is inevitable. For this reason many political executives want political commitment from the bureaucrats. This objective can be achieved if administration is politicised, that is, if politicians appoint party men to top posts.

In many parliamentary democracies the politicisation process does not take place directly. The views and ideologies of the senior executives are known to the ministers and, on the basis of that, the ministers transfer the officers or appoint their favourite persons to important posts. The aim is to bring about harmony in the field of views and ideology. But such a method has large number of drawbacks. Though the officials have ideological preferences, it is a fact that sometimes they act with neutrality.

Moreover, large scale politicisation is bound to inflict harm upon administration. Top officials may be controlled (some say that it is not always true) but the general interests of the community will be affected. People or groups or communities with different ideologies will be deprived of their legitimate share—on political grounds opportunities may not be given.

To Counter the Domination:

The politicisation and the accountability methods for controlling the bureaucracy are very important no doubt and these have been widely practised in many parts of the globe. Apart from these two methods a third one has been suggested and it is bureaucracy is to be countered by taking advice from other persons or organisations.

Since the chief function (or one of the chief functions) of bureaucracy is to tender advice or suggestion to the political executives, bureaucrats, holding key positions, exploit it and try to dominate over the entire administration. Sometimes the powerful bureaucrats try to influence the political executives through various means. The political executives are quite aware of it and, in order to counteract it, in recent years alternative methods have been devised.

In Britain there are institutions, consisting of experts, to share the work load or administrative burden of the ministers. These persons are drawn not from the bureaucratic cadre but from outside. This has helped the reduction of the importance of bureaucrats. Different prime ministers of Britain at different time have created bodies on an ad hoc basis and they help the prime ministers by giving suggestions. For example, Edward Heath set up central Policy Review Staff; Margaret Thatcher expanded the role of Private Office. There are also “think tanks” in many countries.

In the USA there is a well-known body to advice the president and it is Executive Office of the President (E. O. P.). President Roosevelt set it up. There is also National Security Council. This body advises the president on Defense and foreign affairs. In many parliamentary democracies the ministers have their own advisers who are not experienced bureaucrats. Most of them are party-men.

“The purpose of counter bureaucracy is to compensate for the imbalance in the relationship between amateur, temporary and outnumbered politicians and their expert, permanent and professional officials”. This counter bureaucracy has been successful in many countries but in some others the results are not encouraging.

In several Third World states the ministers have been found to take advice from outsiders and this attempt has produced disastrous results (Politics of the Third World). Former British Prime Minister Thatcher abolished some advisory bodies.

The point to note is that all the advisory works cannot be done by persons other than the expert officials. Our conclusion is—notwithstanding the defects of bureaucracy, it still remains the powerful organ of state administration and, in the words of Weber, it is still a rational body.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

Articles: 14418

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *