Originally published by Yale University Press in 1944, Bureaucracy is a classic fundamental examination of the nature of bureaucracies and free markets in juxtaposition to various political systems. Bureaucracy contrasts the two forms of economic management—that of a free market economy and that of a bureaucracy. In the market economy entrepreneurs are driven to serve consumers by their desire to earn profits and to avoid losses. In a bureaucracy, the managers must comply with orders issued by the legislative body under which they operate; they may not spend without authorization and they may not deviate from the path prescribed by law.
Writing in an age of exuberant socialism, Ludwig von Mises here lucidly demonstrates how the efficiencies of private ownership and control of public good production ultimately trump the guesswork of publicly administered “planning” through codes and “officialdom.” Although Mises aptly critiques bureaucracy and expounds thoroughly upon the immense power of law-like codes of commissions and administrations, he does not condemn nor dismiss bureaucracy but rather frames its proper bounds within constitutional democratic governments.