Thursday, July 23, 2009


Bureaucracy is now thought of as a maligned system of obsessive rules, pointless procedures, and entire forests worth of forms which must be filled out in triplicate.

However, it will surprise everyone to learn that it was implemented as a reform over the previous system, nepotism. In the previous system, the boss would hire and promote first his brothers, nephews, uncles, and friends, and only then would he start looking to the general public to fulfill his empty positions. Employment was entirely at his whim, and to firings there was no appeal. If your family wasn't powerful, well, too bad for you. Beg for the crap jobs and hope the hiring man is feeling merciful.

So the idea in Bureaucracy was that such matters must be handled by merit rather than family or relation. One's performance would be at all times monitored, and hiring and promotions would be based on measured tests and other performance metrics. It would be fair, scientific, and just. This fairness would make the company not only better thought of in the eyes of the world, but stronger economically, as all people would be justified in the position they held.

Of course, now is a few hundred years after that, and we can see the flaws. The constant measuring aggravates our animal instincts of predator avoidance, and leaves people ill at ease. The constant paperwork is both boring and irritating. Worst of all, the ideas of merit are ill-enforced, leading to systems that are half nepotic and half bureaucratic and with the worst of both systems. Blargh.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...