Which is Better – Democracy or Bureaucracy?

democracy or bureaucracy

Whenever we talk about democracy, the concept of bureaucracy comes into our mind all of a sudden. Democracy and bureaucracy work side by side. Bureaucracy is termed as a body of non-elected officials or one can say it is an administrative policy-making group. It is a general perception that a centralized form of management works under the government. While on the other hand, democracy is a form of government in which people choose their representatives for legislation and decision making. 


The thought process behind bureaucracy, as an institution, is to have a centralized and monolithic group of employees, who are held responsible for the operation of government activities.

As you can see, bureaucracies fall under the category of the political left.

The United States is a very large and diverse country. The people’s voice is taken for granted and ignored by politicians, so the thought process of bureaucrats is to ignore the idea of political parties or a political agenda to operate on their own. Basically, this is why we have so many government jobs, to spread out the workload of the one or two people who know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to the project.

It also means there will be a variety of approaches and protocols to deliver a project to its completion.


Democracy is a form of government that involves the direct participation of all citizens in governance, rather than only elected officials. In a democracy, the majority is expressed through majority rule and is also made up of individuals who have different perspectives and interests. The emphasis is on a mix of representatives and experts on a wide range of subjects. It involves the majority being a large group, and a small group called the expert.

These experts or technocrats are key to democracy, as they play a significant role in decision-making. Experts are people who have extensive experience in a field, or who are at the top of their professions. This can include doctors, engineers, or other professionals.

Which is better?

By all accounts, bureaucratic methods of doing business are largely slow and inefficient. However, they have a huge advantage over democracy: they provide the government the ability to deflect questions from the population on a wider range of policy issues than an electorate that can vote every four years. The ability of Congress to shift its policy focus is one of the most significant drawbacks of democracy over bureaucratic forms of government.

Why Bureaucracy?

Bureaucracy is usually a product of an organizational structure. Bureaucracies usually consist of several divisions and staff. Each division operates within the group.

One of the main challenges for any organization with a central hierarchy is finding efficient ways of completing a variety of tasks. Bureaucracy has been criticized as being inefficient for a number of reasons, and in some instances, it has proven to be very expensive. As a result, there has been a significant increase in the worldwide trend towards increased decentralization of bureaucratic structures and elimination of hierarchical structures, also known as micromanagement.

Bureaucracy has the ability to delegate power and responsibility

Decentralization allows for more effective decision-making and leadership. Bureaucracy is not as efficient, limited to fewer resources and more manual work. Democracy allows more rapid, on-demand information processing and the ability to weigh new information quickly

If you agree to the above lines, you might be a bureaucrat!

Calvin Coolidge, a 20th Century U.S. President, described the hierarchy of management:

“…the heads of departments should be determined by the President and confirmed by the Senate. These department heads, being policymakers in their own right, should possess the prestige, the authority, the prestige, and the power which those positions necessarily imply.

Bureaucracy is more efficient than democracy

There is a common impression that Bureaucrats scale quickly because bureaucracy is an evolutionary strategy to ensure uniformity. However, bureaucracy can slow down decision-making processes and inhibit innovation.

The first executive order in the U.S. was issued in 1789, more than two centuries after our nation was founded. Still, for many who have experienced getting a government official to perform a simple task or make a decision, bureaucracy can seem like a modern-day scourge. But as long as the government is running smoothly and providing services, is there really a compelling reason to scrap it?

There are many factors that contribute to the effectiveness of bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy doesn’t encourage corruption

In some respects, bureaucracies don’t encourage corruption, because it is not always true. With more of a hierarchy, there is more to manage than in a decentralized form of government.

Bureaucracy can benefit certain public sector agencies

There are a lot of agencies that benefit from centralized control. Bureaucrats create many business regulations, which means companies can take advantage of local business regulations.

Many public schools benefit from some kind of centralized control. For example, a public school needs a governing board that sets regulations, often to prevent the school from becoming a magnet for crime and low achievement. Bureaucratic governance is usually carried out in a very controlled and regulated manner.

Why Democracy?

Economists, libertarians, and democratic theorists argue that democracy is a superior form of governance to bureaucracy for several reasons. Because we

  • Want government to be highly accountable to the people;
  • Expect direct control over government;
  • Want government to behave in a way in which it is responsive to the people;
  • Expect government to be accountable to the citizens;
  • Want government to be competitive;
  • Expect governments to limit its size;
  • Want governments to have the ability to negotiate with foreign nations;
  • Expect governments to be responsive to our needs;
  • Want governments to make trade decisions in our interest;
  • Want governments to restrain capital from competing against labor in the workplace.

Democracy is a participatory form of government

In democracies, people can become directly involved in the governance of their country. Instead of being able to demand that their country follow a particular political theory, the electorate can vote on and approve a new governing policy.

Bureaucracy allows the experts, decision-makers, and experts in specific disciplines to carry out the necessary actions in a manner that is both rational and economically sound. It focuses on its own efficiency. Bureaucracy has the tendency to push for the use of and exploitation of resources in a timely and efficient manner. Since bureaucracies are prone to overextend, inefficient, and prone to corruption, it is always better to have a third-party system.

Democracy is less bureaucratic

In a government that functions in accordance with democracy, the will of the people can be expressed through votes cast in elections that are open to all eligible voters, and in which only one candidate or party can win an election, and which may or may not include specific policies. In such a system, there is an overall framework for determining the course of the policies of the government, and the citizens’ input can influence or shape that framework as a whole. However, if the process of choosing legislation is so biased or unequal that the will of the majority is ignored or overruled, there will still be an element of bureaucracy in the decision-making, and hence it will still be called bureaucracy.


It is a fact that there are many virtues in democracy and corruption. In the current scenario, the amount of corruption has increased manifold in the last two and half decades. Corruption has been going on for the last 70 years in the country. In addition to that, it is a general perception that political parties are part of corrupt practices. Corruption is now the major issue in the country. In order to eradicate this menace, we need to implement proper laws and punish corrupt political figures.

Democracy and corruption are two opposite concepts. However, in the modern world, democracy has become a business of the rich and powerful. As per statistics provided by the British Banker, 38% of the country’s MPs are currently underpaid and some of them are even earning more than an MP from India.

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