Bureaucracy Law and Legal Definition

Bureaucracy is a manner of organization which relies heavily on the principle of hierarchy and rank, and requires a clear, unambiguous chain of command through which "higher" officials supervise the "lower" officials, who supervise their own subordinate administrators within the various subdivisions and sub-subdivisions of the organization. Bureaucratic organizations are typically charcterized by strict adherence to the lines of authority or jurisdiction among the various subdivisions and among the officials who comprise them, which is accomplished by requiring the organization's employees to operate only according to fixed procedures and detailed rules designed to routinize nearly all decision-making.

Generally, only the upper-level bureaucrats typically have discretionary powers for creating their own detailed rules and procedures. Sociological studies have shown that pressures on officials to conform to fixed rules and detailed procedures, when added to the narrow responsibilities of highly specialized agencies for pursuing only a narrow set of the many objectives that government has set, quite regularly leads bureaucrats to become defensive, rigid, and completely unresponsive to the urgent individual needs and concerns of the private citizens and outside organizations with which they come into professional contact.