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Reason's NeglectRationality and Organizing$
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Barbara Townley

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199298358

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199298358.001.0001

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Bureaucratic rationality

Bureaucratic rationality

Chapter:
(p.46) 3 Bureaucratic rationality
Source:
Reason's Neglect
Author(s):

Barbara Townley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199298358.003.0003

This chapter considers the early work on bureaucracy before examining the foundations of a bureaucratic rationality. It strongly distinguishes between the bureaucratic form and a bureaucratic rationality that underpins it. Bureaucratic rationality is identified as domination through knowledge, or that which allows things to be known. It is the mundane, seemingly insignificant acts of semantics, drawing definitional boundaries, rules, procedures, codes, protocols, and writing the world in formalized terms, that enables it to be known, become predictable, and be acted upon. As such, bureaucratic rationality is the underlabourer allowing bureaucratic structures to function. And it is this bureaucratic rationality that persists, if not more so, when the organizational form identified as bureaucracy undergoes many changes.

Keywords:   bureaucracy, bureaucratic rationality, bureaucratic form

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