WANT: This is often thought of as a psychological desire which makes life just a little more enjoyable, but which is not physiological necessary to life. You need oxygen, but you want a hot fudge sundae. Satisfaction is achieved by fulfilling wants.
Visit the GLOSS*arama
Relatively complex government organizations that operate according to rules and procedures to implement the programs and policies of political leaders. A bureaucracy is a complex organization that usually contains hundreds or even thousands of employees, each with different duties and responsibilities. Bureaucracies exist in all types of organizations -- private, public, government, business, charities, corporations, even households. The study of public choice indicates that government bureaucracies are one source of government inefficiency. Other sources are politicians, voters, and special interest groups. Complex bureaucratic organizations assume the task of implementing the policies and programs inacted by governments. Political leaders establish the policies and bureaucracies carry them out. Congress might vote for a change in tax laws, but the Internal Revenue Service is charged with implementing the change. However, it's not "bureaucracies" per se that carry out the policies, but people employed by the bureaucracies, government workers.
These people, these government bureaucrats, carry out the policies and programs according to specific rules and procedures. These rules are the good and bad of bureaucracies. The good is that they enable the implementation of policies and programs in an orderly fashion, not guided by the capricious whims of government workers. The bad is that they prevent workers from assuming personal responsibility, preventing the incentives that are essential for an efficient allocation of resources.
Following OrdersA bureaucracy is a complex organization that, more often than not, contains hundreds or even thousands of employees, each with different duties and responsibilities. Although the word government is usually added to the word bureaucracy (and make no mistake, government is not shy when it comes to complex bureaucracies), bureaucracies exist in all types of organizations -- private, public, government, business, charities, corporations, even households.
Most major corporations are structured as complex bureaucracies. So too are large, nonprofit charities. However, because the public sector tends to have the largest bureaucracies, government bureaucracies tend to get the most notoriety. Moreover, while bureaucracies are a prime source of public sector inefficiency, they also contribute to inefficiency that exists in private sector.
Inherently InefficientSo, the question arises: Why are bureaucracies inefficient? The answer rests with the nature of complex organizations.
Once again, these problems are most pronounced with public sector bureaucracies, but also arise in private sector bureaucracies. While inefficiency is less pronounced in the private sector to the degree that individual responsibility can be assigned and enforced, it does not disappear entirely.
- Responsibility: At the top of the list is the assignment of responsibility to those working in a bureaucracy. In a complex organization, whether public or private, individuals can avoid personal responsibility for their actions. They can blame the rules. They can blame others.
- Management: As the size and complexity of an organization increases, the ability to exert control decreases. The "head" of a one-person organization has complete control over that "one person." The "one person" carries out the dictates of the "head" without error. However, the head of a one-thousand person organization cannot exert the same degree of control over all members.
- Information: Part of the management problems arise due to imperfect information. As the dictates of the head are passed down through the organizational structure, the information is bound to be misunderstood. The head might want 5 copies of a 100 page report and end up with 500 boxes of paper clips.
Maximizing UtilityA key to bureaucratic inefficiency, just like other sources of government inefficiency, is utility maximization. Individual members seek to maximize their own utility. The pursuit of individual satisfaction, however, often conflicts with the pursuit of organizational goals. An individual, for example, might use organization resources to create a more comfortable, but unneeded, work environment (large office, expensive desk, unnecessary travel). Or an individual might maximize utility by minimizing work effort (long lunch breaks, extra time off, sluffing duties onto other employees). Once again, this is a recipe for inefficiency.
A Special InterestAnother key to bureaucratic inefficiency, especially for the public sector, is that bureaucracies operate as special interest groups. The Department of Defense, for example, has more to gain or lose from government spending on national defense than the rest of society. The Environmental Protection Agency has more to gain or lose from environmental regulations than the rest of society. They are thus motivated to enhance their slice of the government pie, even though such enhancement is not needed not efficient.
In particular, the continued existence of a government bureaucracy is dependent on the amount of tax dollars appropriated. A government bureaucracy, as such, is motivated to act just like any private special interest group. Its members are bound to take every action legally allowed (and perhaps some that are not) to convince political leaders to support their organization. This is yet another ingredient in the recipe for inefficiency.
Other Sources of Government FailureGovernment bureaucracies are not the only source of government failures. Three other noted sources are politicians, voters, and interest groups.
- Politicians: These are members of society who seek elected offices. Problems and inefficiencies arise because politicians, like all human beings, seek to maximize their own utility. This pursuit can and does conflict with doing what's best for the economy.
- Voters: People, citizens of a nation, also seek to maximize their own utility. Two rational choices they make in this pursuit are to NOT be informed (rational ignorance) and to NOT participate in the political process (rational abstention). Such "apathy" means that elected leaders can ignore their preferences.
- Interest Groups: While some people have little or no involvement in the political process, others have a great deal of involvement. These people, who also seek to maximize utility, have more to gain or lose from particular government actions and are thus motivated to act accordingly, usually by forming special interest groups.
GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACIES, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia, http://www.AmosWEB.com, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2024. [Accessed: February 27, 2024].
Check Out These Related Terms...
| | | | | | | | | | | |
Or For A Little Background...
| | | | | | | | | |
And For Further Study...
| | | | |
Back to the WEB*pedia
Today, you are likely to spend a great deal of time watching infomercials hoping to buy either a birthday gift for your father that doesn't look like every other birthday gift for your father or a green fountain pen. Be on the lookout for slightly overweight pizza delivery guys.
Your Complete Scope
This isn't me! What am I?
A communal society, a prime component of Karl Marx's communist philosophy, was advocated by the Greek philosophy Plato.
"Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail."
-- Charles F. Kettering
Automated Teller Machine
Tell us what you think about AmosWEB. Like what you see? Have suggestions for improvements? Let us know. Click the User Feedback link.