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Digital Era GovernanceIT Corporations, the State, and e-Government$
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Patrick Dunleavy, Helen Margetts, Simon Bastow, and Jane Tinkler

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199296194

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296194.001.0001

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The Theory of Modern Bureaucracy and the Neglected Role of IT

The Theory of Modern Bureaucracy and the Neglected Role of IT

Chapter:
(p.9) 1 The Theory of Modern Bureaucracy and the Neglected Role of IT
Source:
Digital Era Governance
Author(s):

Patrick Dunleavy

Helen Margetts

Simon Bastow

Jane Tinkler

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296194.003.0001

This chapter shows that long before Max Weber codified his ideal type of bureaucracy in the 1890s, there was an appreciation that the planning, implementation, storage, and re-accessing of written records on larger and more systematic scales was transformative for modern organizations. The early development of IT systems by the 1930s did no more than index (at first) large or (later) vast paper documentation stores. This chapter argues that IT occupies a central role in modern public management. There are four components of this case: the importance of initially paper-based and later electronic information systems in constituting modern bureaucracies as socio-technical systems; the impact of IT on the organizational structure of ‘machine bureaucracies’ especially; the pervasive importance of IT for the contemporary tasks of government; and why most policy changes and public management reforms now focus in their timing and scope on shifts in IT and information infrastructures.

Keywords:   Max Weber, bureaucracy, information technology, public management, electronic information systems, socio-technical systems, machine bureaucracies, information infrastructures, organizational structure, government

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