1st Edition

Bureaucracy A Key Idea for Business and Society

By Tom Vine Copyright 2021
    188 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    188 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Bureaucracy is a curse – it seems we can’t live with it, we can’t live without it. It is without doubt one of the fundamental ideas which underpin the business world and society at large. In this book, Tom Vine observes, analyses and critiques the concept, placing it at the heart of our understanding of organisation.

    The author unveils bureaucracy as an endlessly emergent phenomenon which defies binary debate – in analysing organisation, we are all bureaucrats. In building an experiential perspective, the book develops more effective ways to interact with bureaucracy in theory and practice. Empirical material take centre stage, whilst the book employs ethnographic and auto-ethnographic methods to illuminate the existential function of bureaucracy.

    Taking examples from art, history and culture, this book provides an entertaining alternative academic analysis of bureaucracy as a key idea in business and society which will be essential reading for students and scholars of work and organisation

    Chapter 1: (Re-)introducing bureaucracy. PART I: BUREAUCRACY: RAVE, RANT, REPEAT.  Chapter 2: Bureaucracy, post-bureaucracy and identity crisis.  Chapter 3: Beyond post-bureaucracy: a brave new organizational geography? .  PART II: UNDERSTANDING BUREAU-PHOBIA.  Chapter 4: Understanding bureau-phobia part I: pathological bureaucracy. Chapter 5: Understanding bureau-phobia part II: dystopian bureaucracy.  PART III: TOWARDS A NEW EDUCATION IN BUREAUCRACY.  Chapter 6: A bureaucratic biography.  Chapter 7: Working with bureaucracy.  Chapter 8: Concluding thoughts


    Tom Vine completed his first two degrees at Warwick Business School before moving to Essex Business School for his doctorate. He is currently Associate Professor at Suffolk Business School, where he leads the PhD programme. An ethnographer and organization theorist, Tom's research explores agency, belief, complexity, and paradox. When he's not grappling with Nietzsche, Tom enjoys charity-shop crawls and restoring old boats.

    'This book is both stimulatingly provocative and deeply questioning of much of the literature on the bureaucratic phenomenon. Tom Vine advances a Deleuzian perspective on bureaucracy as an ‘emergent and immanent force’ in  late modernism. Repetitive and recurrent ‘differences’ within and across its operational planes require life-skills in their positive resolution. In presenting his arguments he draws from a wide range of alternative perspectives.'

    Ray Loveridge, Professor Emeritus, Aston University, UK; Visiting Professor, University of Suffolk, UK; Visiting Associate, University of Cambridge, UK


    'Tom Vine's erudite and engagingly personal reexamination of bureaucracy offers compelling alternatives to the familiar debate on 'post-bureaucracy' and the pejorative caricatures of bureaucracy in popular management literature. Rather than arguing for or against bureaucracy, Dr Vine's unique approach is to ask how people in organisations experience, navigate and make sense of this phenomenon. He combines autoethnography, literary criticism and expansive scholarship to develop a phenomenology of bureaucracy. Written with refreshing style and a colourful wit, his book offers invaluable insights for the critical study of contemporary organisations.'

    Samuel Mansell, Lecturer in Business Ethics, University of St Andrews, UK