____'s Law of Bureaucracy?
September 24, 2008 12:01 PM   Subscribe

Obscure political science filter: What is the name of the political science/urban studies law [___'s Law] of bureaucracy that states that, over time, agencies have a tendency/need to invest much of their energy and resources into sustaining themselves, often at the cost of more completely and directly fulfilling their original missions?

I took a class on City Politics awhile back and this concept was introduced to us as "____'s Law" of organizations (or bureaucracy?).

I know it's obscure, but any help would be much appreciated! My google-fu is failing me. Thanks!
posted by lunit to Law & Government (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy?
posted by JoanArkham at 12:22 PM on September 24, 2008

That sounds very much like the Iron Law of Institutions, which states, according to Wikipedia: "... the people who hold power in institutions are guided principally by preserving power within the institution, rather than the success of the institution itself."
posted by koeselitz at 12:28 PM on September 24, 2008

That's a derivative of Parkinson's Law, which states that a bureaucracy grows at a rate of 3% per year unrelated to the job it is intended to perform.
posted by Class Goat at 12:28 PM on September 24, 2008

Although JoanArkham's link is probably better; Pournelle is the man you want, I think. He's a science fiction writer.
posted by koeselitz at 12:32 PM on September 24, 2008

Yes! I was looking for the "Iron Law of Institutions" (and also Michels' "Iron Law of Oligarchy", which is linked to from that wikipedia page). Thank you, mefites!
posted by lunit at 12:36 PM on September 24, 2008

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