SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Delicate Art of Bureaucracy: Digital Transformation with the Monkey, the Razor, and the Sumo Wrestler

IT Revolution. Oct. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9781950508150. pap. $24.99. BUS
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Schwartz (A Seat at the Table, The Art of Business Value) says that people often view bureaucracy as an evil monster. But this is not the most helpful way to think about it. As such, it has played a major role in history, as it is essential to the way states and other large enterprises develop. Here Schwartz shows himself to be an able student of Max Weber. If this is so, why do people view it as an enemy? They do so because the bureaucracies they encounter in daily life are not “lean, learning, and enabling.” Instead, people can use bureaucracy as a key tool to cope with the digital age. The author, who writes in a colorful style with an abundance of literary references, says that we “can overcome bureaucracy by blasting holes in it, by shrinking it, and by forcing it to turn upon itself.”
VERDICT Readers involved in digital technology, as well as general readers interested in the place of bureaucracy in history and the contemporary world will gain a great deal from this insightful book, written by a master of the field.

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