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date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The “iron cage” has proven to be a very evocative metaphor, usually associated with government bureaucracy and its regulations. That bureaucracy has become the dominant organizational type in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors is often not recognized. While bureaucracy is often perceived in a negative manner, in a public sector context it also has great benefits, namely in the protection of citizen and societal interests against the private interests of business and lobbying interest groups. What is the role and position of public bureaucracy in contemporary Western, democratic societies? This chapter argues that the state, and by extension its bureaucracy, cannot be hollowed out and supplanted by other types of organization such as enterprise governance and network governance. Has Weber’s worry come true that democracy is marginalized by bureaucratization?

Keywords: iron cage, virtual cage, bureaucracy, bureaucratization, rationalization

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