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1. A memorandum is written not to inform the reader but to protect the writer.

Dean Acheson (1893-1971) U.S. statesman. Quoted in Wall Street Journal (September 8, 1977)


2. The giant power wielded by pygmies.

Honore De Balzac (1799-1850) French writer. Referring to bureaucracies. Les Employes (1836)


3. The problem is that lots of people in organizations may have vision, but there’s absolutely zero meaning…They’ve…forgotten why they are there, which is why bureaucracies become stodgy and obsolete and filled with inertia.

Warren Bennis (b.1925) U.S. educator and writer. Interview, Strategy+Business (July-September 1997)


4. Bureaucracy emerged out of the organization’s need for order and precision and the workers’ demands for impartial treatment. It was an organization ideally suited to the values and demands of the Victorian age.

Warren Bennis (b.1925) U.S. educator and writer. “The Coming Death of Bureaucracy,” Think (1966)


5. Poor fellow, he suffers from files.

Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960) British politician. Referring to the administrator Sir Walter Citrine. Quoted in Aneurin Bevan (Michael Foot; 1962), vol. 1


6. Guidelines for bureaucrats: 1) When in charge, ponder. 2) When in trouble, delegate. 3) When in doubt, mumble.

James H. Boren (b.1925) U.S. lecturer and satirist. New York Times (November 9, 1970)


7. A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.

Barnett Cocks (b.1907) British author. Quoted in New Scientist (1973)


8. “Corpocracy” is large-scale corporate America’s tendency to be like the government bureaucracy.

Richard G. Darman (b.1943) U.S. investment banker, academic, and presidential adviser. New York Times (November 9, 1986)


9. It seems to me that there must be an ecological limit to the number of paper pushers the earth can sustain.

Barbara Ehrenreich (b.1941) U.S. writer, sociologist, and feminist. 1986. “Premature Pragmatism,” The Worst Years of Our Lives (1991)


10. We try to substitute discussion for thought by organizing committees.

Harvey Firestone (1868-1938) U.S. founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber. Men and Rubber (co-written with Samuel Crowther; 1926)


11. Gradually I contracted the chart fever.

Harvey Firestone (1868-1938) U.S. founder of Firestone Tire and Rubber. Referring to the creation of department and organization charts. Men and Rubber (co-written with Samuel Crowther; 1926)


12. Administrative purpose usually outruns the facts. Indeed the administrative official’s ardor for facts usually begins when he wants to change the facts!

Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933) U.S. management thinker and author. Creative Experience (1924)


13. The real problem for any government coming to power is to control the civil servants. They will all explain why it is quite impossible to do things other than the way they are currently done.

Milton Friedman (b.1912) U.S. economist and winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Economics. Evening Standard (London) (February 26, 1980)


14. In an information society, neither governments nor corporations will rely exclusively on formal, bureaucratic rules…Instead, they will have to decentralize and…rely on the people over whom they have nominal authority to be self-organizing.

Francis Fukuyama (b.1952) U.S. economist and writer. The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstruction of Social Order (1999), ch. 1


15. Large, rigid bureaucracies, which sought to control everything…have been undermined by the shift toward a knowledge-based economy, which serves to “empower” individuals by giving them access to information.

Francis Fukuyama (b.1952) U.S. economist and writer. The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstruction of Social Order (1999), ch. 1


16. The modern business mania is to build greater and ever greater paper-shuffling empires.

  1. Paul Getty (1892-1976) U.S. entrepreneur, oil industry executive, and financier. How to Be Rich (1965)


17. I don’t believe there’s any difference under the microscope between the bureaucracy of General Motors, the Pentagon, the Kremlin, the Vatican or any of these major bureaucracies.

James Goldsmith (1933-97) British entrepreneur, financier, and politician. Quoted in Company Man: The Rise and Fall of Corporate Life (Anthony Sampson; 1995)


18. Few great men could pass Personnel.

Paul Goodman (1911-72) U.S. educator, psychoanalyst, and writer. Growing Up Absurd (1960)


19. Bureaucracy is ever desirous of spreading its influence and power.

Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) U.S. president. Presidential campaign speech, New York (October 22, 1928)


20. The most important thing American industry needs to do is reduce the number of management layers.

Kenneth Iverson (1925-2002) U.S. industrialist, chairman and C.E.O. of Nucor Corporation. Quoted in Thriving on Chaos (Tom Peters; 1987)



21. Bureaucracy…carries much of the function in modern industrialized society that was carried by the extended family, the village and the surrounding community before the industrial revolution.

Elliot Jacques (b.1917) Canadian psychologist and sociologist. A General Theory of Bureaucracy (1976)


22. Bureaucracy is…a potentially powerful force in the direction of freedom and justice in industrial society, by acting to ensure openness and social mobility.

Elliot Jacques (b.1917) Canadian psychologist and sociologist. A General Theory of Bureaucracy (1976)


23. The manifest picture of bureaucratic organization is a confusing one.

Elliot Jacques (b.1917) Canadian psychologist and sociologist. A General Theory of Bureaucracy (1976)


24. We have a very simple, clear organization. It’s very easy to know who has authority for what, who has responsibility for what. There’s no politics about it, they’re virtually politics-free organizations.

Steve Jobs (b.1955) U.S. entrepreneur, cofounder and C.E.O. of Apple Computer Company, and C.E.O. of Pixar. Quoted in “Steve’s Two Jobs,” Time (Michael Krantz; October 18, 1999)


25. Officials are highly educated but one-sided; in his own department an official can grasp whole trains of thought from a single word, but let him have something from another department explained to him…he won’t understand a word of it.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech novelist. The Castle (1926)


26. Bureaucratic and risk-averse environments are career killers because of their impact on learning.

John P. Kotter (b.1947) U.S. writer. The New Rules (1995)


27. A committee is an animal with four back legs.

John Le Carre (b.1931) British novelist. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974)


28. The bureaucracies of the Industrial Age will appear to the new inter-corporate, transcontinental networks like old Royal typewriters do to PC owners.

Jessica Lipnack (b.1947) U.S. journalist St. Louis Post-Dispatch (December 1991)


29. It is a characteristic of committee discussions and decisions that every member has a vivid recollection of them and that every member’s recollection differs violently from every other member’s recollection.

Jonathan Lynn (b.1943) British writer and director. Yes Prime Minister (co-written with Antony Jay; 1987)


30. The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.

Eugene McCarthy (b.1916) U.S. politician and writer. Time (February 12, 1979)


31. Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism.

Mary McCarthy (1912-89) U.S. author and critic. “The Vita Activa,” New Yorker (October 18, 1958)


32. An administrator in a bureaucratic world is a man who can feel big b merging his non-entity with an abstraction. A real person in touch with real things inspires terror in him.

Marshall McLuhan (1911-80) Canadian sociologist and author. Letter to Ezra Pound (1951)


33. Bureaucracies indicate a lack of trust and mutual regard and respect.

Shiv Nadar (b.1946) Indian business executive and software developer. Quoted in Giant Killers (Geoffrey James; 1996)


34. Generally, large companies are so inwardly directed that staff memorandums about growing bureaucracy get more attention than the dwindling competitive advantage of being big in the first place. David, who has a life, needn’t use a slingshot. Goliath, who doesn’t is too busy reading office memos.

Nicholas Negroponte (b.1943) U.S. academic, cofounder and director of MIT Media Laboratory. “Get a Life?,” Wired Magazine (September 3, 1995)


35. Bureaucratic time…slower than geologic time but more expensive than time spent with Madame Claude’s girls in Paris.

P.J. O’Rourke (b.1947) U.S. humorist and journalist. Parliament of Whores (1991)


36. Government proposes, bureaucracy disposes And the bureaucracy must dispose of government proposals by dumping them on us.

P.J. O’Rourke (b.1947) U.S. humorist and journalist. Parliament of Whores (1991)


37. Too many diversified companies strangle individual businesses with red tape in the form of financial and bureaucratic guidelines.

Kenichi Ohmae (b.1943) Japanese management consultant and theorist. The Mind of the Strategist (1982), ch. 13


38. It’s all papers and forms, the entire Civil Service is like a fortress made of papers, forms, and red tape.

Aleksandr Nikolayevich Ostrovsky (1823-86) Russian playwright. Attrib.


39. I despise bureaucrats. I despise administrators…There has been an overgrowth of an arrogant master class of administrators…who regard themselves as being in charge and everyone else as being their lackeys.

Camille Paglia (b.1947) U.S. academic, educator, and writer. Interview, Reason Magazine (August-September 1995)


40. Time spent on any item of the agenda will be inverse proportion to the sum involved.

  1. Northcote Parkinson (1909-93) British political scientist and author. Parkinson’s Law: the Pursuit of Progress (1958)


41. In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.

Laurence J. Peter (1919-90) Canadian academic and writer. The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong (co-written with Raymong Hull; 1969)


42. Muddle is the extra unknown personality in any committee.

Anthony Sampson (b.1926) British author and journalist. Anatomy of Britain Today (1965)


43. The bureaucratic method of building an integrated Europe has exhausted its potential.

George Soros (b.1930) U.S. financier, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. “Can Europe Work?,” Foreign Affairs (1996)


44. So many signatures for such a small heart.

Mother Teresa (1910-97) Albanian missionary. Referring to filling in forms in a Californian hospital. Quoted in Evening Standard (London) (January 3, 1992)


45. Bureaucracy, safely repeating today what it did yesterday, rolls on an ineluctably as some vast computer, which, once penetrated by error, duplicates it forever.

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-89) U.S. historian. The March of Folly (1984)


46. The heroic role of the captain of industry is that of a deliverer from an excess of business management. It is a casting out of businessmen by the chief of businessmen.

Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) U.S. economist and social scientist. The Theory of Business Enterprise (1904)


47. There is something about a bureaucrat that does not like a poem.

Gore Vidal (b.1925) U.S. novelist and critic. Sex, Death, and Money (1968), Preface.


48. Confucius…emphasized that benevolence should be regarded as the highest ideal of morality and as the basis of administrative power.

Zhong-Ming Wang, Chinese academic and business author. “Management in China,” Management in Asia Pacific (Malcolm Warner, ed,; 2000)


49. However many people complain about the “red tape” it would be sheer illusion to think for a moment that continuous administrative work can be carried out except by means of officials working in offices…The choice is only that between bureaucracy and dilettantism in the field of administration.

Max Weber (1864-1920) German economist and sociologist. Quoted in Economy and Society (Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich, eds,; 1968)


50. Bureaucratic administration means fundamentally the exercise of control on the basis of knowledge.

Max Weber (1864-1920) German economist and sociologist. 1924. The Theory of Social and Economic Organization (A. M. Henderson and T. Parsons, eds. And trs.; 1947)


51.Capitalism…strongly tends to foster the development of bureaucracy…Conversely, capitalism is the most rational economic basis for bureaucratic administration and enables it to develop in the most rational form.

Max Weber (1864-1920) German economist and sociologist. 1924. The Theory of Social and Economic Organization (A. M. Henderson and T. Parsons, eds. And trs.; 1947)


52. The development of the modern form of the organization of corporate groups in all fields is nothing less than identical with the development and continual spread of bureaucratic administration.

Max Weber (1864-1920) German economist and sociologist. 1924. The Theory of Social and Economic Organization (A. M. Henderson and T. Parsons, eds. And trs.; 1947)


53. The purely bureaucratic type of administrative organization…is superior to any other form in precision, in stability, in the stringency of its discipline, and in its reliability.

Max Weber (1864-1920) German economist and sociologist. 1924. The Theory of Social and Economic Organization (A. M. Henderson and T. Parsons, eds. And trs.; 1947)


54. The speed with which bureaucracy has invaded almost every branch of human activity is something astounding once one thinks about it.

Simone Weil (1909-43) French philosopher and activist. 1933. Oppression and Liberty (1955)


55. The Treasury could not, with any marked success, run a fish and chip chop.

Harold Wilson (1916-95) British prime minister. Quoted in “Sayings of the Week,” Observer (London) (March 18, 1984)