April 1, 2008

The Politics of Bureaucracy and the Failure of Post-War Reconstruction

  • Christopher Coyne

    Associate Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
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Gordon Tullock’s The Politics of Bureaucracy must be considered one of the most important works on bureaucracy ever written. In this paper, Coyne argues that Tullock’s analysis of bureaucracy is as relevant as ever. To support this claim, the author focuses on U.S.-led reconstruction efforts which attempt to export liberal democracy via military occupation. Bureaucratic organizations play a key role in these reconstruction efforts and as such, Tullock’s analysis is directly relevant. It is argued that Tullock’s study clarifies not just the limits of bureaucratic activity, but also the importance of spontaneous orders for coordinating activities outside those limits and generating the very institutional context in which liberal democracy can evolve and sustain. The main conclusion is that the nature of public bureaucracy constrains the ability of the United States to exogenously impose liberal democratic institutions in foreign countries for the very reasons Tullock emphasized long ago.

Read the article at SpringerLink.

Citation: Coyne, Christopher. "The Politics of Bureaucracy and the Failure of Post-War Reconstruction." Public Choice 135, no. 1-2 (2008): 11-22.