Define bureaucracy. What is the role of bureaucracy in development?

Bureaucracy lacks a universal definition. It sometimes is used in disparaging manner to mean unimaginative, rigid and inefficient government administrators. It is associated with red-tapism, delay and wastefulness. Many social scientists describe bureaucracy,in a neutral way to mean a specific form of social organization involved in administrative efforts. It is a machine, which is needed to run the government of the day. It is the only tool available to any modern government to administer. According to Weber, idea-type bureaucracy is characterized by:

  • Officials organized in fixed jurisdictional areas.
  • A hierarchical arrangement of offices organized in a pyramid like structure with each lower office under the control of a higher one.
  • Written documents that contain rules to be applied in every case.
  • Anonymity.
  • Impersonality in applying rules uniformly.
  • Political neutrality.

Role of Bureaucracy in development

Bureaucracy has become a universal phenomenon. It is a prequisite of modernization of every society. Most developing countries are engaged in the process of nation building and bringing about rapid social-economic development. The complexity of such formidable activities connected with the development enterprise is essentially government’s enterprises. Bureaucracy can contribute immensely to development by serving as an advisor, inventor and a decision-maker.

It can vitalize administration by building up a social environment emphasizing responsibility by creating incentives, by encouraging healthy competition and self-development, by organizing institutional management under competent and progressive leadership and by delegating authority to lower levels for maximizing development. Bureaucracy constitutes the mechanism through which the state realizes it purposes. A high degree of bureaucratic competence is essential to push through speedy development measures.

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