hierarchical control structures ballooned, with more layers of middle management. Such bureaucracy was what really brought people together in nation-sized units, argues Maleševic. But not by design: it emerged out of the behaviour of complex hierarchical systems. As people do more kinds of activities, says Bar-Yam, the control structure of their society inevitably becomes denser.
In a sense, I began thinking about this fifteen years ago.
Consider two evolutionary processes that could lead to a winner at a particular business.
a) natural selection. Many small firms enter the market and make decisions, and one of them has the skill and luck to make the fewest mistakes, becoming the dominant firm.
b) bureaucratic filtering. A single firm with a large bureaucracy faces many of the same choice points, and it uses its resource-intensive planning processes to sort out the decisions. These processes minimize mistakes, enabling the firm to reach the same point that would be reached in the natural selection process.
My guess is that process (a) will increase in importance in the future, and that process (b) will be less productive. The challenge with defending this guess is the fact that large companies with bureaucratic management are so successful at present.
That particular essay did not deal with the issue of nation-states. But it is consistent with the idea that industrialization and the nation-state would evolve at the same time, because bureaucracy was more important and effective in an industrial economy than in a pre-industrial or post-industrial economy.