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Home > Financial Quotes > Bureaucracy

Financial Quotes

Bureaucracy Quotes

  • "Bureaucracies temporarily suspend the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In a bureaucracy, it’s easier to make a process more complex than to make it simpler, and easier to create a new burden than kill an old one."
    Clay Shirky (1964–), US author and expert on new media
    Source: “The Collapse of Complex Business Models,” shirky.com/weblog (April 1, 2010)
  • "Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution."
    Clay Shirky (1964–), US author and expert on new media
    Source: Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age (2010)
  • "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 (1947–), US journalist
    Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (December 1991)
  • "Bureaucratic time … slower than geologic time but more expensive than time spent with Madame Claude's girls in Paris."
    P. J. O'Rourke (1947–), US humorist and journalist
    Source: Parliament of Whores (1991)
  • "It seems to me that there must be an ecological limit to the number of paper pushers the Earth can sustain."
    Barbara Ehrenreich (1941–), US writer, sociologist, and feminist
    Source: “Premature Pragmatism,” The Worst Years of Our Lives (1991)
  • "Corpocracy is large-scale corporate America's tendency to be like the government bureaucracy."
    Richard G. Darman (19432008), US investment banker, academic, and presidential adviser
    Source: New York Times (November 9, 1986)
  • "Bureaucracy, safely repeating today what it did yesterday, rolls on as ineluctably as some vast computer, which, once penetrated by error, duplicates it forever."
    Barbara W. Tuchman (19121989), US historian
    Source: The March of Folly (1984)
  • "The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty."
    Eugene McCarthy (19162005), US politician and writer
    Source: Time (February 12, 1979)
  • "A memorandum is written not to inform the reader but to protect the writer."
    Dean Acheson (18931971), US statesman
    Source: Quoted in the Wall Street Journal (September 8, 1977)
  • "A committee is an animal with four back legs."
    John le Carré (1931–), British novelist
    Source: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974)
  • "A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled."
    Barnett Cocks (19071989), British author
    Source: Quoted in New Scientist (1973)
  • "Guidelines for bureaucrats: (1) When in charge, ponder. (2) When in trouble, delegate. (3) When in doubt, mumble."
    James H. Boren (19252010), US lecturer and satirist
    Source: New York Times (November 9, 1970)
  • "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 (18641920), German economist and sociologist
    Source: Quoted in Economy and Society (Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich, eds, 1968)
  • "Muddle is the extra unknown personality in any committee."
    Anthony Sampson (19262004), British author and journalist
    Source: Anatomy of Britain Today (1965)
  • "Poor fellow, he suffers from files."
    Aneurin Bevan (18971960), British politician
    Referring to the administrator Sir Walter Citrine.
    Source: Quoted in Aneurin Bevan (Michael Foot, 1962), vol. 1
  • "Few great men could pass Personnel."
    Paul Goodman (19111972), US educator, psychoanalyst, and writer
    Source: Growing Up Absurd (1960)
  • "Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism."
    Mary McCarthy (19121989), US author and critic
    Source: “The Vita Activa,” New Yorker (October 18, 1958)
  • "An administrator in a bureaucratic world is a man who can feel big by merging his non-entity with an abstraction. A real person in touch with real things inspires terror in him."
    Marshall McLuhan (19111980), Canadian sociologist and author
    Source: Letter to Ezra Pound (1951)
  • "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 (18831924), Czech novelist
    Source: The Castle (1926)
  • "A committee is a group of people who keep minutes and waste hours."
    Milton Berle (19082002), US comedian
    Source: Attributed

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