ilization of anti-bureaucratic sentiments and the claim that it is time to say good-bye to bureaucracies and bureaucrats just another round in a perennial debate and ideological struggle over what desirable forms of administration and government are--that is, a contest for control of the size, agenda, organization, competences, moral foundations, staffing, resources, and outcomes of the public sector? If so, how helpful is the literature on "bureaucracy" in analyzing current administrative challenges, compared to the diagnoses and prescriptions presented by reformers over the last twenty-five years?
The paper acknowledges that there have been important changes in public administration and, even more so, in the way administration is portrayed. Yet it questions the fashionable ideas that bureaucratic organization is obsolescent and that there has been a paradigmatic shift from (Weberian) bureaucracy to market organization or network organization. (1) In contrast to decades of bureaucracy bashing, the paper argues that contemporary democracies are involved in a struggle over institutional identities and institutional balances. It also argues that for those interested in how contemporary public administration is organized, functions, and changes, it is worthwhile to reconsider and rediscover bureaucracy as an administrative form, an analytical concept, and a set of ideas and observations about public administration and formally organized institutions.
The argument is developed in the following way: First, some characteristics of bureaucratic organization are outlined. Second, claims about the undesirability of bureaucracy are discussed in relation to competing criteria of success/failure and assumptions about the performance of bureaucratic organization. Third, aspects of administrative dynamics and the viability of bureaucratic organization are inquired, and fourth, some reasons for rediscovering bureaucracy are recapitulated.
"Bureaucracy" is often used as a