Finely yet fiendishly wrought

I have a couple of friends who are, to say the least, not happy with the decisions made on the upper rungs of their respective org charts, and I was trying to come up with something to address this matter myself when I wandered over to Daily Pundit, and sure enough, Bill Quick had the very quote I was looking for. It originates with writer Jerry Pournelle, and it’s called “The Iron Law of Bureaucracy”:

Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people:

First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

Yep. Welcome to Type 1.


  1. fillyjonk »

    23 August 2017 · 5:20 pm

    Makes sense to me.

  2. jsallison »

    24 August 2017 · 8:15 pm

    The people of Human Remains, if successful, are the survivors of vicious infighting, apple-polishing, backstabbing, and other suchlike arcane arts that one is driven to when one doesn’t actually create a work product that generates revenue but still have to have the appearance of being useful. Mere producers don’t stand a chance as they’re too focused on their jobs.

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