The Disadvantages Of Bureaucracy

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There is no consensus about what constitutes bureaucratic dysfunction. However when bureaucracies cease to uphold expected fundamental values, they become dysfunctional. Rules and regulations may be obsolete, or interpreted in too strict a manner. But when bureaucracies actually are protecting fundamental values of democratic governance and administration, and yet the results are not satisfactory, one should probably consider the underlying conflict in values. If an innovation is blocked by rules and regulation, it might be that the proposed novel practice would not sufficiently satisfy the values that the public want to see protected, or the innovator has not yet convincingly made the case that it will. The notion that there is an inherent negative causal relationship between governmental procedures and the capacity for innovation in the public sector appears to originate in a pejorative conception of bureaucracy. To understand bureaucracy as an impediment to innovation, a nuanced and more sophisticated analytical approach is needed.
Bureaucracies are as much a system of values as they are a system of rules. Max Weber formulated
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Every task comes with specific authorities, resources and sanctions. Public sector bureaucracies typically have narrowly defined jobs and organisations dominated by individual professions (Borins, 2001). Part of the reason for this is to enable the efficient division of labour and to de-concentrate power. Many organisations’ departments are ill equipped to tackle today’s so-called “wicked problems” which extend beyond boundaries and require close collaboration and dynamic approaches. When an organisation fails to co-ordinate and collaborate, division of labour immediately fails to be efficient and may inhibit innovative solutions. This “silo system” has been identified as a main barrier to innovation (Bason, 2010; Australian Government, 2010; Walker
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