Bureaucracy (i/) refers to both a body of non-elective government officials and an administrative policy-making group.[1] Historically,[when?] a bureaucracy was a government administration managed by departments staffed with non-elected officials.[2] Today, bureaucracy is the administrative system governing any large institution, whether publicly owned or privately owned.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9] The public administration in many countries is an example of a bureaucracy, but so is the centralized hierarchical structure of a business firm.

Since being coined, the word bureaucracy has developed negative connotations for some.[10] Some bureaucracies have been criticized as being inefficient, convoluted, or too inflexible to individuals.[11] The dehumanizing effects of excessive bureaucracy became a major theme in the work of German-language writer Franz Kafka (1883–1924) and are central to his novels The Trial and The Castle.[12] The 1985 dystopian film Brazil by Terry Gilliam portrays a farcical macabre world in which small, otherwise insignificant errors in the bureaucratic processes of government develop into maddening and tragic consequences. The elimination of unnecessary bureaucracy is a key concept in modern managerial theory[13] and has been an issue in some political campaigns.[14]

Some commentators have noted the necessity of bureaucracies in modern society. The German sociologist Max Weber argued that bureaucracy constitutes the most efficient and rational way in which human activity can be organized and that systematic processes and organized hierarchies are necessary to maintain order, maximize efficiency, and eliminate favoritism. On the other hand, Weber also saw unfettered bureaucracy as a threat to individual freedom, with the potential of trapping individuals in an impersonal "iron cage" of rule-based, rational control.[15][16]

Etymology and usage

The term "bureaucracy" is French in origin and combines the French word bureau – desk or office – with the Greek word κράτος (Kratos) – rule or political power.[17] It was coined in the mid-18th century by the French economist Jacques Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay[18]. Gournay never wrote the term down but was later quoted at length in a letter from a contemporary:

The late M. de Gournay... sometimes used to say: "We have an illness in France which bids fair to play havoc with us; this illness is called bureaumania." Sometimes he used to invent a fourth or fifth form of government under the heading of "bureaucracy."

The first known English-language use dates to 1818[17] with Irish novelist Lady Morgan referring to the apparatus used by the British to subjugate its colony as "the Bureaucratie, or office tyranny, by which Ireland has so long been governed."[19] By the mid-19th century, the word was being used in a more neutral sense, referring to a system of public administration in which offices were held by unelected career officials. In this sense "bureaucracy" was seen as a distinct form of management, often subservient to a monarchy.[20] In the 1920s, the definition was expanded by the German sociologist Max Weber to include any system of administration conducted by trained professionals according to fixed rules.[20] Weber saw the bureaucracy as a relatively positive development; however, by 1944 the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises opined in the context of his experience in the Nazi regime that the term bureaucracy was "always applied with an opprobrious connotation,"[21] and by 1957 the American sociologist Robert Merton suggested that the term "bureaucrat" had become an epithet in some circumstances.[22] The word "bureaucracy" is also used in politics & government with a disapproving notion to mention about official rules that make it difficult to do things. In workplaces, the word is used very often to mention about complicated rules, processes, and written work that make it hard to get something done.[23]

Other Languages
العربية: بيروقراطية
asturianu: Burocracia
azərbaycanca: Bürokratiya
беларуская: Бюракратыя
български: Бюрокрация
català: Burocràcia
čeština: Byrokracie
davvisámegiella: Birokratiija
Deutsch: Bürokratie
Ελληνικά: Γραφειοκρατία
español: Burocracia
Esperanto: Burokratio
euskara: Burokrazia
français: Bureaucratie
galego: Burocracia
한국어: 관료제
հայերեն: Բյուրոկրատիա
हिन्दी: अफसरशाही
hrvatski: Birokracija
Bahasa Indonesia: Birokrasi
íslenska: Skrifræði
italiano: Burocrazia
עברית: בירוקרטיה
ქართული: ბიუროკრატია
қазақша: Бюрократия
Кыргызча: Бюрократия
latviešu: Birokrātija
lietuvių: Biurokratija
magyar: Bürokrácia
македонски: Бирократија
მარგალური: ბიუროკრატია
Bahasa Melayu: Birokrasi
Nederlands: Bureaucratie
日本語: 官僚制
norsk: Byråkrati
norsk nynorsk: Byråkrati
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Byurokratiya
polski: Biurokracja
português: Burocracia
română: Birocrație
русиньскый: Бюрокрація
русский: Бюрократия
sicilianu: Buròcrati
Simple English: Bureaucracy
slovenščina: Birokracija
کوردی: بیرۆکراسی
српски / srpski: Бирократија
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Birokracija
Basa Sunda: Birokrasi
suomi: Byrokratia
svenska: Byråkrati
тоҷикӣ: Бюрократия
Türkçe: Bürokrasi
українська: Бюрократія
Tiếng Việt: Bộ máy quan liêu
粵語: 官僚組織
中文: 官僚制