HUMMEL and GOODSELL by ghkgkyyt

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									HUMMEL and GOODSELL

  Both authors assess the state of bureaucracy: Hummel quite critically
   and Goodsell quite positively.

  Goodsell argues with a variety of data; Hummel a more theoretical
   case

  Hummel is strong at identifying possible bureaucratic pathologies, but
   he over-reaches in making the pathology the most likely case.
   Goodsell makes a case that bureaucracy is misunderstood, but is
   perhaps too forgiving of possible problems.


HUMMEL

  Comes clearly from the post-modern camp

  Focuses on the dehumanizing effects of bureaucracy (and really does
   not distinguish between public and private)

  The problem is largely linked to the hierarchical nature and focus on
   expertise within a modern bureaucracy

  This leads to bureaucrats who know a great deal about a specific task
   but not much about the totality of what they (and their agencies) do

  Hierarchy leads bureaucrats to seek impersonalized goals rather than
   helping the actual person in a bureaucratic encounter. (Note that
   Hummel uses the same language of an encounter as might McSwite.)

  Ironically the very values that modern bureaucracy holds dear
   “stability, discipline, reliability, formal equality of treatment”
   Hummel disparages. (Yet he really doesn’t say what value, besides
   treating the human being in each and every instance, should be
   pursued.)
   Focus of bureaucracies, according to Hummel, is only on processing
    cases rather than quality outcomes

   This leads to a dehumanization of both clients (who become cases)
    and the bureaucrats themselves (who cannot make real decisions.)

Methodological Problems

   Argument is rather tautological: bureaucracy is assumed to be
    dehumanizing and thus the only answer is that bureaucrats are in
    despair or denial. (This is often done with Marxist oriented critical
    theory – if you don’t see the work as critically defined then you suffer
    from false consciousness.)

   Argues that bureaucrats have too much power, but that the malaise
    individual bureaucrats have is that they don’t have the power to make
    individual decisions. (This is somewhat mediated by his blame on
    upper level bureaucrats.)

   Argues, but offers no evidence, that clients are either unhappy with the
    service they receive or desire some other arrangement

   Really takes the political realm off the hook – again linked to
    bureaucrats having too much power – by focusing on the culture of
    expertise. Yes, bureaucrats may be expert and can use that expertise
    to cloak their actions, but they can (as Goodsell notes) use it to make
    very positive changes.

   Charges, but again without evidence, that bureaucrats are largely out
    of touch with those they serve – that they are elitist and racist.

Strengths

   Certainly shows potential problem in dehumanizing encounters (cases
    not people). But how prevalent and who is responsible for this
    (politicians who create 40-1 caseloads)?

   Certainly shows how bureaucratic language can distort situations
    (“friendly fire”)
   Is a voice for frustrated line bureaucrats who must deal with large
    numbers and impossible situations without adequate funding or
    support. Again, though, is this the norm and doesn’t this bring some
    blame onto the political realm and undercut the notion that
    bureaucrats have too much power. The argument is at least partially
    contradictory.)

GOODSELL

Advances arguments against a number of commonly held charges made
about bureaucracy

   Bureaucrats (public) are poor performers: cites citizen satisfaction
    studies that show people are generally happy with public agency
    performance and that it compares well with private counterparts.
    (Note, too, that these public support scores come even with a great
    deal of bureaucracy bashing.)

   Bureaucrats are inflexible power seekers: shows through both survey
    and case studies that bureaucrats often are quite innovative in
    addressing problems (summary page 46)

   Bureaucrats are elitist and racist: provides considerable evidence that
    bureaucrats are far more representative than often portrayed (by critics
    on both the left and the right.) Managerial positions are more diverse
    than in the private sector (pg. 91/92.) Attitudes are comparable,
    although with a slightly more liberal tilt (page 87).

   That the bureaucratic personality is far healthier than portrayed by
    critics such as Hummel: cites multiple studies of bureaucrats not only
    enjoying their work, but feeling that it makes a difference (see
    especially table 5.8, page 105.)

   That bureaucracy is too big: a more subjective section, but shows that
    bureaucratic growth is not “out of control.” Might also link
    bureaucratic growth to public demands – when services are even
    suggested for cutting, there is usually an outcry.
Goodsell provides a powerful rejoinder to both academic and political
critics. However, bureaucracy is a relatively easy target for criticism.

He might be a bit too optimistic and perhaps too accepting of the public
perceptions about bureaucratic performance. Still, when bureaucracy
doesn’t perform their lack of performance is noticed (Katrina and FEMA).

Goodsell also shows the range of the bureaucracy (and the handout article is
just wrong in criticizing Goodsell’s very inclusive use of the term
bureaucracy) covering aspects of direct service provision to management.

A point that perhaps both Goodsell and certainly Hummel don’t cover in as
much detail as possible is political interference with the bureaucracy. As we
will cover with Re-inventing Government, many of the supposed failures of
government are due to restraints placed upon the bureaucracy. However,
these same constraints are parts of the multiple value environment that was
presented in the first class lecture.

								
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