Bureaucracy is a term composed of bureau (meaning "writing desk" in old French) and -cracy (meaning "power" in Latin). A bureaucracy is a form of work organization. The historical meaning of the term refers to a body of non-elected government officials, but is nowadays understood as an administrative system used by corporations and public institutions. 

As defined by Max Weber, a bureaucracy is a form of general organization characterized by the preponderance of rules and procedures that are applied impersonally by specialized agents.

Some critics explain that the formalism of bureaucracy can lead to a heaviness and rigidity of administrative action, and even a monopolization of power for the sole benefit of the interests of bureaucrats (those who work within a bureaucracy).

[Last updated in March of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]