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Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy

Jerry Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people:

First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

The Iron Law of Bureaucracy

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  • Donald Sensing September 14, 2017, 9:50 AM

    Also den Beste’s Law: “The job of bureaucrats is to regulate, and left to themselves they will regulate everything they can.”

  • Ray September 14, 2017, 12:23 PM

    The mission statement of the bureaucracy is irrelevant because the real mission is to grow the bureaucracy.

  • Howard Nelson September 14, 2017, 4:18 PM

    The commenters above will be severely punished for violation of Rule 95qrd which has gone into effect retroactively from 1-1-2017.
    The charge: Speaking the truth.