Bureaucracy as conceptually used in Public Administration is often associated with conduct of public affairs and the activities of public officials. Therefore, bureaucracies are found in political religious, business, military, educational and other organizations. Modern society have come to regard bureaucracy as sine qua non for organizational effectiveness mark Weber, (1947:196) conceives bureaucracy as a powerful model of organization, he likened bureaucracy to emotion, which its description is incomplete; in many aspects, as a way of life, Weber indicated that bureaucracy involves a clear cut division of integrated activities which are regarded as duties inherent in office. To him, human organization without structures, stability and order breeds chaos. Therefore, in order to overcome what otherwise will lead to confusion in the organization structures, and ensure stability and order, man created bureaucracy.
Herbert Hicks and Gullet cited in (Okpata, 2004:74) referred to bureaucracy as! “A label, and not epithet, bureaucracy denotes an integrated hierarchy of specialized offices, defined systematic rules an impersonal routinised structure wherein legitimatized authority rest in the office and not in the person of the incumbent,”

            Adebayo, (1981:18) stated that bureaucracy appeared to have acquired an opprobrious meaning, and odious connotations hence it is associated with inefficiency, lack of initiative, unintelligence rigidity in approach to human problems, and down right stubbornness  on the part of official. This impression is very particular to Nigeria civil service and indeed has gained permanence in recent times and has so manifested in the way civil servants went about their business.

            In the same vein Dimock (1969) cited in (Okpata 2006:731) identified bureaucracy with institutions and large scale organizations in society. For him “Bureaucracy” is the state of society in which institutions overshadow individuals and simple family relationships; stage of development in which division of labour specialization, organization, hierarchy, panning and regimentations of large groups of individuals either by voluntary or involuntary methods are the order of the day.

            According to V.S.P Rao in Nwizu (200:97) the word “bureaucracy” implies an organization characterized by rules, procedures, impersonal relation, and an elaborate and fairly rigid hierarchy of authority responsibility and relationships. In simple terms, it implies the most efficient and rational organization in which there is clearly defined hierarchy of offices, each office with a clearly defined area of jurisdiction, each office filled by an individual tested to posses the highest technical qualifications and the entire set of office linked together by a system of rules, procedures and impersonal relationships.

            Ralph, (2001:84) opined that the word bureaucracy is always in mixed and confused with red rape. This has brought untold hardship to a good number of people who want to express their views on either bureaucracy or red rape. For him bureaucracy is a form of organization that possesses certain special structural characteristics designed to maximize efficiency in pursuit of established goals”. He went further to state that the most important structural characteristics are a permanent class of civil servants with clearly defined duties, whose authority is officially fixed by law and record keeping so that past decisions can be used as the basis for future administrative actions. The result is a system of administration that can provide routine, uninterrupted services where officials are prove to emphasize operational effectiveness and relational behaviour over other organizational values.

            Ihejiamaizu, (1996:9) sees bureaucracy as an organization with a hierarchy of paid, full time officials who form a chain of command. He reiterates that bureaucracy is often formed when people or individuals engage in some collective effort to achieve some collective goals.

            Vieg (1989:55), says in free translation that bureaucracy means “desk government” or management by bureaus”. That it denotes the sum total of the personnel apparatus and by which an organization manages its work and accomplishes its purpose. The organization may be public or private, commercial, educational or ecclesiastical, but if it is of any size, it must be bureaucracy.

            Davis (1949:66) took a structural views of bureaucracy as an organization. He used the term for denoting “an integrated hierarchy of specialized offices defined by systematic rules an impersonal routinised structure wherein legitimized authority rest in the office and not in the person of the incumbent.

            Blau and Mayer (1966:161) lays great emphasis on functional aspect of bureaucracy. They defined bureaucracy as organization designed to accomplish large scale administrative rank by systematically co-coordinating the work of many individuals.

            Websters third international diction any (1971) defined bureaucracy as a system of administration marked by constant striving for increased functions and power by lack of initiative and flexibility, by indifference of human needs or public opinion and by a tendency to defer decision to superior or to impede action with red rape. The body of officials that gives effect to such a system”.

            Coser and Rosenberg (1976:68) defined bureaucracy as that type of hierarchical organization which is designed rationally to co-ordinate the work of many individuals in pursuit of large scale administrative tasks.

            Bureaucracy according to Hyneman 91980:102) is a form of organization superior to all others we know or can hope to afford in the near and middle future, the chances of doing away with or changing if probably none is in existence in this century.

            Mbawike (2003:78) defined bureaucracy as any large organization that operates lender division of labour, hierarchical structure, formal rules and regulation impersonal rational relationship and competence as a basis of employment. She further stated that the superior effectiveness of bureaucracy, its capacity to co-ordinate large scale administrative task, and superior efficiency are the expected results of its various characteristics as outlined by Weber the acknowledged Chief proponent.

            Sergioranni and Starrat (1990:225) in their contribution, further asserted that bureaucracy provides us with orderliness and efficiency, while the costs are in its deterministic programming character which often result to rigid impersonal organizational structures.

            Stillman (1998:49) argued that bureaucracy as the general formal structural elements of a type of human organization particularly the collective personnel and structures of a governmental organization. He maintains that bureaucracy has both good and adverse qualities, and sees it as a neutral term rather than as a hostile negative traits of large organization.

            Tyagi (2004:406) affirmed that “bureaucracy” is used to describe any personnel system where the employees are classified in a system of administration composed of a hierarchy of sections, divisions, bureaus, departments and the like. He also added that the management or every large scale enterprise has necessity to be carried on through a well organized system of scions and bureaus manned by a hierarchy of officials, he added that every large scale administration, public or private, is bureaucratic.

            Encyclopedia Britannica stated that the term “bureaucracy” signifies the concentration of administrative power in bureaus or department and the undue interference by officials in matters outside the scope of state interference.

            Pfiffner (1997:26) used the term bureaucracy in this sense, “Bureaucracy is thee systematic organization of tasks and individuals into a pattern which can most effective effort.

            Onah (2005:57) “Bureaucracy” is generally used to refer to specific set of structural arrangement often found in large organizations. She went further to state that bureaucracy is used to describe large scale formal and complex organizations with the line of authority arranged in hierarchical order. She also sees bureaucracy as a government by paid officials irrespective of the political party in power. That bureaucracy in this respect manifests itself most in the executive arm of government under the civil service. Hence, that the term bureaucrats refer to the caner officials in the civil service as against the political officials.

            Agbonifor (1999:55) asserts that bureaucracy denotes integrated hierarchy of specialized officers defined by systematic rules an impersonal routinized structure where in legitimized authority rest in the office and not in the paria of the incumbent. He went further to state bureaucracy deals with the ideal way of structuring organization, so that maximum efficiency is attained.

            Mcfarland (1979:81) sees bureaucracy as a system of organization and management, in which roles, tasks, and the relationships among people and positions are clearly defined, carefully prescribed and controlled in accordance with formal authority. He stated that the idea is efficiency in organization which it aims to achieve though measurement discipline and impersonality.

            Berastein (1987:38) asserted that bureaucracy is a system with se rules of managerial and regularized ways of recruiting and appointing people who have the necessary expertise for their tasks. He went further to state that bureaucracy is seen as people vocational, looks at their jobs as careers ad are accorded status and salary. They maintain records, co-ordinate their operations and evaluate the effectiveness of their work.

            Mouzel (1989:70) stated that bureaucratic administration means the exercise control on basis of knowledge. It is established for the purpose of co-coordinating organizational activities in order to achieve certain goals.

According to him, bureaucracy consists of rules which define tasks and responsibility of each participant as well as the formal mechanism which would permit the integration of these tasks.

            Finally, having looked at bureaucracy by different authors, the researcher have it that bureaucracy is a situation in an organization where people are paid for full time work and placed in positions according to seniority. Also work is done collectively to achieve collective results.               


            Civil service, according to the civil service hand book (1972) described civil service as the government machinery that manages its affairs and carries out its day to day duties that public administration demands.

            Nwoso, (1977:92) shortly put that civil service “is a body or organ which enjoys continuity of existence.

            Adesayo (2000:107) sees the Civil Service as the bedrock of the executive arm of government, charge with the task of implanting and executing the policies decided by the political authorities.

            Avasthi and Maheshwai (1962:388) asserts that the term civil service has been defined in Britain as “those servants of the crown other than holders of political or judicial offices, who are employed in a civil capacity and whose remuneration is paid wholly and directly out of monies voted by parliament. An analysis of this definition shows that the term excludes persons in defense forces, person holding political or judicial offices, and persons who work for government in an honorary capacity or are paid out of public revenues.


Nevertheless, the new civil in Nigeria has certain appreciable features or legacies, values and ideas in their conjectures such as the value of honesty, prestige, devotion, selflessness, neutrality and impartiality etc, that enables every bureaucratic or civil servant to work towards accomplishing public objectives.

            (Eze, 1995) cited in Okpata (2006:389) identified some of those features like: selfless service, political neutrality, career service, professionalism.

            In the same vein, Ezeali and Edeh (2007:111-112) identified other features of the civil service which includes: permanency in office, political neutrality merit system, impartiality, operation within the frame work of the law, strict regulations and procedures, hierarchy and expertise.


            In reality of the present modern government, public bureaucracy has become inevitable in modern society; as it has become the main instrument through which any government implement social change.

            First, bureaucracy aids in the framing of legislation. Bureaucrats are at their best when it comes to framing of legislation.

            Uduma (2003:107) noted that bureaucrats play an active role in the initiation and framing of laws which are usually recommended to the legislature for satisfaction and approval.

            In the same vein Okpata (2004:75) added that framing of legislation is on important function of bureaucracy that once a bill has been passed into law on a broad principle, the bureaucrats will spell out details of the legislation for effective implementation. In spelling out the details of legislation, the bureaucrat, because of this expert knowledge and information, exercises wide discretion and can extend the legislation beyond its original intents with the basic understanding that bureaucracy operates at the executive arm of the government, this function of the bureaucracy has become very important in situations of strong executives. The executives usually initiate thus most legislation, and bureaucrats train most of the executive legislation.

            Bureaucrats recommend policy. According to Okpata (2004:75) this is perceived as a new function of the bureaucracy. Traditionally, policy is solely believed to be the duty of the legislations but with increasing complexities of modern government and the volume of technical legislative issues awaiting the attention of the legislatures, with the need for expertise knowledge and competence, advice and guidance, the bureaucrats are usually called up in such pressure ridden situation coupled with the urgency an technical details of some policies to assists the legislators. He further states that this role is in tandem with the understanding that technical experts of various dimensions and qualities are located in the bureaucracy, which is indispensable in the process of legislation.

            Dum, et al (2004:29:30) affirmed that another importance of bureaucracy is that it enables the specialization of function. He argued that specialization converts complex activities into simple tasks with each position handling the aspect of job in which it is most competent and disposed to handle. Also that bureaucracy creates structure. That the duties of each person is clearly spelt out and makes for easy coordination of organizational activities while eliminating indecision.

            He went further to state that bureaucracy creates room for creditability and stability. That the creditability and stability of an organization is premised on the rules and regulations, structure, specialization and other features of bureaucracy. Creditability and stability in the sense that it makes for order and rationalizes human relationship that would have been irrational and accidental and also provides certainty in the organizational activities.

            Furthermore he noted rationality as an important function of bureaucracy. Fir him bureaucracy emphasizes on technical competence and qualification as the sole basis for gaining and holding a hob. In this way, there is no room for favoritism, ethnicity and nepotism; rather job opportunities and promotion are based on achievement, qualification and experience.

            Meanwhile, Chukwuemka et al (1998) in Okpata (2004:75) noted other functions which includes;

Engineering and implementing social change, influencing public policy, implementing public policy and discharging routine duties of government.


            Despite the importance and seeming inevitability of the bureaucracy in modern society, it has been faced with a lot of problems. Even max Weber himself who is seen ass the father of modern bureaucracy was fully aware of such problems and criticisms and fears about bureaucracy.

            First, the division of labour which bureaucracy demands apparently lead to monotony and boredom. Most importantly it leads to alienation. This explains a situation where the workers is estrange or dissociated from the surrounding society. Being afraid of this situation, Weber wrote that “it is horrible to think that the world would one day be filled with little cogs, little man changing to little jobs and string for another bigger ones”.

            Schafer (2002:203) argued that true division of labour has certainly enhanced the performance of many complex bureaucracies, in some cases it can lead to trained incapacity: that is workers become so specialized that they develop blind problems. Even worse, they may not care about what is happening in the next departments.

            Bureaucratic values of impersonality are constantly in conflict with societal values. According to Rosen bloom and Krauchuk, (2002:205), public organization, bureaucratically as organized, tends to be in tension or conflict with society in terms of style of action, emotional feelings, and overriding concerns. The differences between societal and bureaucratic values, in short, are social interaction versus doing and the beliefs randomness, and emotionalism versus specialized expertise systemization and impersonality, while to Weber, “the question in order to keep a position of mankind free from this parceling out of the soul, from this supreme mastery of the bureaucratic way of life.

            The problem of red tapes associated with the bureaucracy is one which seems highly over-flogged. However, the frustrations which people meet every day in their interaction with public bureaucracies are such that still call for emphasis on this issue. Apart from the fact that many third world bureaucracies are indolent and inefficient (like in Nigeria), all over the world, the adherence to rules and regulations has made the bureaucracy to be noted for its slow nature.

            Schaefer (2002:206) believe that adherence to rules is quite in order but he argues that at times it over shadows the large goals of an organization and becomes dysfunctional. If blindly applied, they will no longer serve as a means to achieving an objective but instead will become important (and perhaps too important) in their own right.

            The demand of conformity to official regulations has always pitched the bureaucracy against the people who find it difficult to understand why public officials cannot use their initiatives to get problems solved. Victor Thompson (1961:105) brought home this point when he wrote that:

The bureaucratic culture makes certain demands upon the clients as well as upon the clients as well as upon the organization employees. There are many people in our society who have not been able to adjust to those demands. To them bureaucracy is a curse. They see no good in it whatsoever, but view the demand of modern organization on red rape.

            Bureaucracy is inconsistent with democratic governance. According to Onah (2000), bureaucracy is an anti thesis of democracy. Although in literature, bureaucracy is efficient, but if it is compared with democracy, it is clearly seen that both principles contradicts. Democracy is a government of compromise, understanding respect of all recognition of system most of the time people are manipulated by those who they elected into position to rule, this situation has been described as ‘the illusion of democracy” democracy involves supremacy of the people, supremacy of the people in government.

            This is why Abraham Lincoln defined Democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people. Unlike bureaucracy, it rules and principles of bureaucracy are stacked to and if it is not diluted it would not blend well with democratic government.

            Obi and Chukwuemeka (2006:112) observed that it is obvious that inefficiency of civil service are discredits to the democratic government in Nigeria are all caused by the strict adherence to the bureaucratic rules by the civil service thus, leading to poor and belated policy making and subsequently Methuselah age to be implemented, all in the name of due process, while the populace which consumes the outputs are in jeopardous state. This obliviously differs from military administration, where the military administrator gives order to the civil service and it shall be carried out. Example was the military regime of Mike Torey in Enugu State.

            However, rash decisions were made them.  


Blam, P.M and Mayer M.W. (1966) Bureaucracy in the modern society; New York, prentice Hal

Chukwu, L. (2002) The Civil Service System: Enugu computer edge publishers.

Dimmock, M.E. (1960) Bureaucracy self-examined Administration and management; Oxford, B.H publisher

Duru, E.J .C et al (2004) Nigerian Local Government and Rural Development Administration; Onitsha, Cymart ventures.

Eldridge, G. (1967) Bureaucracy and innovations Home word, Illion Irwin publishers.

Ezeali, B.O and Edeh, J.N. (2007) Comparative public Administration; Onitsha, chambers Book Ltd.

Ihejiamaizu, E.C. (1966) Comprehensive Test Book in Administrative and organizational theory; Calaber, Executive publishers.

Maheshwari, Sand Avasthia, A. (1962) Public Aministration; Aga, lack shim Nigeria Argawal publishers.

Obi, E.A. and Chukwemeka, J.N (2006), Development Administration theory and application; Onitsha Abbrt communication.

Okapta, F.O. (2006) Bureaucracy communication and information management; Enugu, Jones publishers.

Onah, R.C (2005) Public Administration, Nsukka Great Ap express publishers.

Penow, C. (1970) Organization Analysis A Sociological view; California, Wards work publishers.

Ralph, N. (2001) Elements of Public Administration, Enugu, John Jacob’s Publishers.

Tyagi, A.R (2004) Public Administration principles and practice; Dechi; B.K. offset press.

Uduma, D.O (20030 Contemporary Public Administration; Enugu, Agmasum Publishers.
Share on Google Plus


NB: Join our Social Media Network on Google Plus | Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin