Monday, 30 June 2008

Welcome...

... to the Creative Bureaucracy blog, a Comedia blog about all things bureaucratic.

For a while now we at Comedia have been thinking about what makes bureaucracies tick, in ways good and bad. What is the make up of 'the bureaucratic mindset,' if such a singularity exists? Can we identify ways in which bureaucrats can be encouraged to think differently - more imaginatively perhaps - to tackle the problems they encounter on a day-to-day basis? What, in fact, do we mean by 'bureaucracy'? We all use the word fairly glibly, but while we are comfortable with the sign, there is little clarity regarding the referent: Do we mean a group of people ('bureaucrats'), 'red tape' (rules/regulations, paperwork and its computerised equivalents, etc), a way of doing things, a system (the '-cracy' bit), all of the above +?

In English at least the word 'bureaucracy' connotes more negative associations than positive and is often used pejoratively. But here we want to encourage a more neutral conception of the term. Bureaucracies happen and have been with us as long as civilization itself. They arise in any organization given a certain size and level of complexity. As such, they are not confined to public works as anyone who has worked in a large company will bear witness.

This, then, is not any sort of anti-bureaucracy blog nor is it intended to be a repository of moans. The point is to note ways in which bureaucracies can be made more palatable, effective and sometimes even creative, and to disseminate these. But anything goes. We're interested in bureaucracy professionally, academically, culturally, informally, philosophically, psychologically... You get the drift. We will post accounts of our own experiences (in both our work and personal lives), thoughts, strange encounters, cultural references - anything centrally or vaguely relating to bureaucracy really. And we encourage anyone vaguely moved to respond to do so with reactions (antagonistic welcome, weird-aggressive less so), observations, suggestions and thoughts negative, positive, obscure, funny, surreal.

This blog is in its earliest stages and no doubt will evolve into forms previously unforeseen by us. Watch this space for the first 'proper' post.

10 comments:

Craig Purcell said...

...apparently the subject matter of a "creative" bureaucracy" never yielded any results - perhaps because it is a misconception.

Artyems said...

I work in a relatively affluent local council in metropolitan Perth, Western Australia, and have recently witnessed an extraordinary, positive cultural shift in the appointment of a new leader. In fact, a prominent local artist has commented that he feels the council may actually be the saving grace of our area! As a creative person (I am a visual artist), I am very excited to be involved in, and helping to guide, a creative city. Charles Landry, in The Creative City, mentioned that we may be looking at different community needs in more affluent areas, ie: the basic needs as defined by Maslow are being met, and I would be interested in hearing more about this. Does anyone have any experience with building creative capital in more affluent, fairly homegenous areas?

Piero said...

The bureaucrat scarecrow visits Emerald city
Piero Formica, Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, 1966-'68
National University of Ireland, Maynooth (Dublin)
piero.formica@gmail.com

The bureaucrat scarecrow. With the head full of straw instead of brain, people think I am stupid. Big wizard of Oz, could you give a bit of brain so to be able to carry out my work?

The Wizard of Oz. You will see Emerald City in its totality so to acquire knowledge of circumstances and particular facts that make the polis: “hot” knowledge with mind and body. What you will learn will not be enough. I will then offer you the opportunity of knowing people: “the people you know” are more important than “knowledge” or what you know. This is how you will have a “democratic” brain or what promotes particular interests of the “majority”. With this brain, you could use the force of power, climb the pyramidal hierarchy, allow privatives by raising artificial barriers against the entry of competitors on markets and feed the privileges in the equal semi-shadow of social status.

The bureaucratic scarecrow: is the rumor that the bureaucratic tribe in Emerald City has given life to a new species called homo bureaunsesis true?

The Wizard of Oz: we are very proud of this social invention. Our homo bureauensis produces rules, but does not make culture; he maximizes his budget by avoiding formal mistakes, but is not an entrepreneur who survives mastering the risk; he is receptive towards precise requests coming from pressuring groups but does not pay attention to impossible desires of citizens. He is a master of ambiguity given his very vague laws and programs so to have the majority of voters identify themselves in his politics. This will not happen, if on the contrary, his goals would be clear therefore without uncertainties.
Moreover, the homo bureauensis flies from a potential mortal danger because he has wrapped in ambiguity the possibility of achieving his programs’ goals. This way, he nurtures inefficiency which if increasing will raise prices, expenses and gains; and more gains bring more power to control and this is what really counts for him. Do not forget that homo bureauensis is successful because dictates rules and produces deficit: the more numerous the former, the higher the second and his reputation too. The citizen cannot protest but cannot live without the public service in the hands of our bureaucrat. His activity is so precious that we offer him a great incentive to play “head or cross”, if head comes, he wins; if cross comes out, tax-payers pay......
et cetera

Piero said...

The bureaucrat scarecrow visits Emerald city
Piero Formica, Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, 1966-'68
National University of Ireland, Maynooth (Dublin)
piero.formica@gmail.com

The bureaucrat scarecrow. With the head full of straw instead of brain, people think I am stupid. Big wizard of Oz, could you give a bit of brain so to be able to carry out my work?

The Wizard of Oz. You will see Emerald City in its totality so to acquire knowledge of circumstances and particular facts that make the polis: “hot” knowledge with mind and body. What you will learn will not be enough. I will then offer you the opportunity of knowing people: “the people you know” are more important than “knowledge” or what you know. This is how you will have a “democratic” brain or what promotes particular interests of the “majority”. With this brain, you could use the force of power, climb the pyramidal hierarchy, allow privatives by raising artificial barriers against the entry of competitors on markets and feed the privileges in the equal semi-shadow of social status.

The bureaucratic scarecrow: is the rumor that the bureaucratic tribe in Emerald City has given life to a new species called homo bureaunsesis true?

The Wizard of Oz: we are very proud of this social invention. Our homo bureauensis produces rules, but does not make culture; he maximizes his budget by avoiding formal mistakes, but is not an entrepreneur who survives mastering the risk; he is receptive towards precise requests coming from pressuring groups but does not pay attention to impossible desires of citizens. He is a master of ambiguity given his very vague laws and programs so to have the majority of voters identify themselves in his politics. This will not happen, if on the contrary, his goals would be clear therefore without uncertainties.........

monnoo said...

Your work is great, but it could be greater. Basically, you draw in all your work on tons over tons of examples. That's great, no question. But an important piece is missing: reflection and theory, or theory building.
Concerning your "creative bureaucracy" (or should it simple be called "positive bureaucrazy-ness"?) this is even more painful. A bureaucrat is a person or institution who rules ("kratos") by means of its office (activity), usually, verdicts laws etc. It is, bluntly speaking, a contradiction to make this creative.

What's really going on becomes visible only before the background of an "archaelogy" of the office (ever mentioned Michel Foucault?)... and the field of propositions (Foucault) of the digital. The digital is a super-mega-trend since 1000years now, and during its course we (culture) experienced waves after waves, and counterwaves after counterwaves. The basic negotiation is about automation and participation. To take part or not to = to be or not to be = To take part or to be part(ed). Thats the simple question which currently is negotiated in culture.

Such an account is completely missing, despite all your examples support that. But taking sth like this (theory) seriously would help to embed your work better, beyond the popularity and its self-fulfilling power.

the Vulture said...

micah4real.blogspot.com

the vulture thinks you over did it!

gusti ikromi Akbar said...

very helpful, thanks

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