chapter  9
16 Pages

Recent developments: some apparent counter-trends

The preceding analysis of the centralization and rationalization of bureaucracy was not meant to imply that these developments have necessarily attained new heights in recent years. Many observers maintain, in fact, that certain counter-trends have now become apparent. For one thing, it has been maintained that many functional subdivisions of government bureaucracies have been brought about for prestige and power reasons, rather than for real administrative necessity, and thus have brought overlap and duplication rather than effectiveness. Also, consistent principles have not always been followed in allocating functions to different units; examples of illogical groupings are not rare and (as the pluralists have been adept in showing) instances of disunified control, insufficient co-ordination and internal fragmentation are not hard to come by either. To this must be added the outside pressures and demands and the consequent necessity for bureaucracy to maintain liaison with various sections of the community. This, in combination with the general mounting complexity of administrative tasks (chapter 2) has led bureaucracies to become exceedingly cumbersome in their structures and operations. The recent technical advances from photocopying to computer-processing have helped bureaucracy cope with the complexities. But even with their aid some bureaucracies cannot hope to do more than 'muddle through'.