Growth of Bureaucratic Systems

Bureaucratic systems, for Jaques, are internally live and changing, as the occupants of the systems join, develop, change, and leave. There is a continual ebb and flow, with stable periods and critical change periods. At the same time, different parts of the system change at different rates, as do the individual members of these parts of the system.

It is precisely by identifying such differences in individuals that a society can accomplish two important social ends: firstly, it can arrange social procedures to make it possible for everyone to gain a level of work and career consistent with his or her work capacity; secondly, it can bring political power and legislative control to bear to ensure that bureaucracy is managed in a manner consistent with the political outlook of society. Thus, whether or not bureaucratic organization would lead to economic elitism would be a political decision.

Size of organization, Jaques maintains, tends commonly to be regarded as a function of size of market, the nature of the economy, the type of technology and other such external factors. They are necessary but not sufficient. For Jaques, ultimately, the distribution of sizes of bureaucracy will be determined by the distribution in level of work capacity of those available to manage the bureaucracies.

There is a kind of Archimedes' principle at work, whereby bureaucratic systems grow to the level-of-work capacity of their chief executives; conversely, chief executives ...

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