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Men, Machines, and Modern Times$
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Elting E. Morison

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262529310

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262529310.001.0001

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Data Processing in a Bureau Drawer

Data Processing in a Bureau Drawer

(p.59) 3 Data Processing in a Bureau Drawer
Men, Machines, and Modern Times

Elting E. Morison

The MIT Press

This chapter discusses the nature of bureaucracy and the things associated with a bureaucratic organization. It first considers various definitions of bureaucracy before turning to two or three things that come to anyone's mind when he is presented with the word “bureaucracy.” In particular, it looks at the career of General Fred Crayton Ainsworth, who made his reputation for his skill in the collection, the filing, and the organization of paper. Here, it becomes apparent that the real point of bureaucracy is data processing. After addressing paper work in bureaucracy, the chapter examines the impersonality of bureaucracy as well as red tape and regulations and those who work in the bureaucratic situation. It suggests that what we call bureaucracy, with its interest in fixed and uniform solutions, thrives best in static environments, but that science and technology constantly interfere to throw the bureaucratic balance of things out of balance.

Keywords:   bureaucracy, Fred Crayton Ainsworth, data processing, paper work, impersonality, regulations, science, technology, red tape

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