(redirected from bureaucracies)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Financial, Encyclopedia.


A system of administration wherein there is a specialization of functions, objective qualifications for office, action according to the adherence to fixed rules, and a hierarchy of authority and delegated power.

Organizations such as the armed forces or administrative agencies are common examples of bureaucracies.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

BUREAUCRACY. The abuse of official influence in the affairs of government; corruption. This word has lately been adopted to signify that those persons who are employed in bureaus abuse their authority by intrigue to promote their own benefit, or that of friends, rather than the public good. The word is derived from the French.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
It is not clear why Silberman's types are either exhaustive or dichotomous, unless his contention is merely definitional--either bureaucracies have tight career structures or not, and, if not, are "rational" only if professionally oriented.
With exceptions, they clearly "work" in the sense that people from all over the world are clamoring to be admitted to them, even though they are run by big state bureaucracies with heavy federal involvement.
The juxtaposition between bureaucracies and markets is not only based on efficiency concerns or technical and investment-related specifics as in transaction cost economics.
Such ratios should be viewed more as measures of the integration of women and people of color into public bureaucracies rather than indicators of representative bureaucracy (Lewis, 1988).
Performance reforms implemented in state-level bureaucracies might have increased bureaucratic power in the states.
As open systems, however, bureaucracies both shape their environment and respond to it.
The empirical support for this blame, however, has rarely matched the rhetoric, comparisons between private and public sector bureaucracies (and private schools are bureaucracies too) shows that public sector bureaucracies perform about as well as private sector bureaucracies when valid comparisons are made (Goodsell, 1994).
"As in Vietnam," wrote military reformer Edward Luttwak, "the people involved are so absorbed in the internal labyrinth of competing military bureaucracies that they scarcely notice the external reality beyond their offices in Washington"--realities like kamikazes in trucks.
Yet Stein takes little notice of the weapons that give the federal bureaucracy ascendancy over the elected administration in making (or frustrating) policy: the virtually unlimited tenure of the jobholder versus the transitory life of any administration, and the powerful alliances bureaucracies form with their congressional oversight committees and special interest groups.
First, everyone is forced to join something called a health-care "alliance." These are still largely mysterious, quasi-governmental bureaucracies that both oversee and compel the arrangement of insurance-industry-run HMOs.
Stokes also wants to create a Trade Corps, a group of public-spirited civil servants who would work on "the development of common strategies on trade issues that transcend narrow departmental approaches." And to make sure that all these new bureaucracies are doing their jobs, a Congressional Trade Office would be set up to be a legislative watchdog.
Government bureaucracies look outward for a rescuing angel.