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Democracy, Bureaucracy, and Hypocrisy Redux: A Search for Sympathy and Compassion
Louis C. Gawthrop
Public Administration Review
Vol. 57, No. 3 (May - Jun., 1997), pp. 205-210
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/976650
Page Count: 6
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Twenty years ago, Dwight Waldo observed that one inevitable consequence of the fusion of democracy and bureaucracy is the manifestation of hypocrisy. For many public administrators, as they prepare to enter into the 21st century, Waldo's insight rings true. The demand of adapting the prevailing canons of management to the intrinsic values of democracy create a professional environment wherein the art of pretense, the methods of acting or playing a role-indeed, of wearing a mask-become virtual prerequisites for a successful career. In far too many instances, the appearance of commitment to duty is sufficient to fulfill the demands of public service; as a consequence, those individuals who are successful in appearing to be dutiful public servants are most frequently viewed as exemplary bureaucrats. In fact, however, they stand as "scarecrows in a cucumber field," to use the biblical words of Jeremiah-"they cannot speak; they have to be carried for they cannot walk. Be not afraid of them, for they cannot do evil; neither is it in them to do good." After more than two hundred years of experience at laboring in the service of democracy, is it not fair to conclude that we-as a society, and certainly "we" as a profession-have become expert in the application of guise and pretense to hide the hypocrisy that has infested the core of our system of democratic governance? Perhaps now is the time for us, as a profession, to borrow a page from another distinguished scholar, Chris Argyris, and commit ourselves to "making the undiscussable and its undiscussability, discussable." The facade of pretense applied in the name of public service tends to project bureaucracy in its most unfavorable light. If this perception is to be changed in the years ahead, it is incumbent upon public servants, individually as professionals and collectively as a profession, to create a new reality for themselves-a new image that rings true of a service in the name of democracy.
Public Administration Review © 1997 American Society for Public Administration