What Is the Acquisitive Model of Bureaucracy?

According to Georgia Perimeter College, the acquisitive model of bureaucracy asserts that high-level bureaucrats continuously aim to increase their budgets and staff. The bureaucracy will seek out new goals to justify its existence.

This model originates from the works of Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli. In his 16th century work, "The Prince," he wrote that authority and power are not contingent upon morality. According to Stanford University, Machiavelli believed a law was only as effective as it was enforceable. In the treatise he writes, "since there cannot be good laws without good arms, I will not consider laws but speak of arms." As a result, Machiavelli considered the use of power to be the main vehicle of political activity, which all rulers should understand.

This emphasis on power mirrors the self-perpetuation argument. This claims that bureaucratic institutions are difficult to terminate and end up exerting influence over other branches of the government. Experts point to the existence of the Interstate Commerce Commission 11 years after the duties it oversaw were deregulated in 1980. Similar models include the monopolistic, which states that bureaucracy reflects a monopoly in that it has no competition. Therefore, it has no incentive to be efficient with its resources.