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Checks on Bureaucracy, Organizational Accountability, and Organizational Culture

  • Steven G. KovenEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Bureaucracies are not runaway trains. In and of themselves they are not destined to capture power from an inattentive public; they are not preordained to rule by virtue of their superior knowledge and expertise. There are very specific mechanisms to control potential excesses of the nonelected bureaucrats. This chapter describes checks on the power of the bureaucracy. The “inner check” relies upon a sense of professionalism, moral responsibility, and personal resolve as a control. The “outer check” in contrast adapts a less optimistic view of human motivations. The “outer check” requires obedience to external controlling authorities. For the outer check to be effective, external punitive controls are essential. Wrongdoing is likely to occur in the absence of such controls. Institutions enact controls on bureaucracies. These institutions include the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) as well as the media. Strong institutions prevent illegal capture of governance by bureaucratic actors. The chapter notes that it is difficult to discuss actions that can universally apply to all government organizations because government agencies differ dramatically in terms of their missions and culture. Bureaucracies retain discretion, yet their power can be constrained by either internal or external controls.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA

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