The point of a bureaucracy? It's not creativity, innovation, or rapid response to unanticipated events — even though pundits fill countless column-inches with criticism of bureaucracies for failing to do precisely those things.

No, bureaucracy is the social invention par excellance for inertia — the reliable, consistent handling of routine, predictable, mundane, yet important tasks. Do you really want your local sewage plant to be run by state-of-the-art teenage überhackers? Would you trust a crack team of theoretical astrophysicists to build and maintain the national tax collection infrastructure? How about hiring quick-reacting race car drivers to manage the air traffic control system?

Doubtless there would be much more excitement in life with such changes, and perhaps the application of genius to societal challenges would produce some astoundingly clever answers. But there's also the likelihood of abrupt, catastophic failure — as well as irresponsibility when brilliant people get bored with doing the necessary but unexciting parts of the job ...

(see also ByDesign (28 Aug 1999), OnePerScore (6 Feb 2000), BureaucraticImmuneSystem (9 Aug 2000), WeightOfOffice (30 Nov 2000), WhySoBad (20 Oct 2002), BeingThere (21 Mar 2003), ... )

TopicOrganizations - TopicSociety - 2004-08-11

(correlates: BeingThere, ShortTimers, FireFighting, ...)