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Bureaucracy and its Critics in America and Germany: In Defense of the “Bureaucratic Paradigm”

Laurence E. Lynn, Jr.

Abstract


Abstract

Contemporary critiques of traditional government in both America and Germany are based on serious distortions and misunderstandings of the rationale and the dynamics of its creation. This misunderstanding concerns how and why governing institutions evolved, the essential path dependence of national institutional development, and the purposes bureaucracy has and continues to serve on behalf of liberal democracy. The consequence is misguided efforts at administrative modernization that are doomed to failure. The historical reality is that both the American administrative state and the German Rechtsstaat were devised to serve liberal, republican purposes. That such institutions endure is less a reflection of the well-known pathologies of bureaucracy—although such pathologies are always present as institutions evolve—as of their continuing value to the preservation of civil society, an endurance that has accommodated change within flexible frameworks of law and practice.

Keywords: bureaucracy; bureaucratic paradigm; Rechtsstaat; traditional public administration; managerialism


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