Theory of Bureaucracy - Kickoffall Info Hub

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Theory of Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy is defined as an organizational structure which is made upon many standardized processes, rules, requirements, procedures, meticulous division of labor, strong hierarchies and impersonal dealings between employees”.
Even though Bureaucracy as an institutional structure was practiced in China in the period of 186 B.C, Bureaucracy was systematically studied and theorized by Max Weber (1864-1920) who was born in western Germany. Even today, the Weberian ideal type bureaucracy remains to be the dominant idea in the public administration. Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, and Woodrow Wilson are the other major contributors to the idea of Bureaucracy.
Max Weber
Elements of bureaucracy:
  1. Impersonal Order: The official should do their obligations in an impersonal manner. The rules should be objectively obeyed regardless of the person.
  2. Rules: Rules are the foundation for the operations of the legal authority. Officials have to strictly follow the rules. The rules control the manner of an office.
  3. Sphere of Competence: They are the mandatory expertise to perform functions to assure the systematic division of labor.
  4. Hierarchy: The office and each official is part of a hierarchy and the lower office works under the control of the higher office.
  5. Separation of Personal and Public Ends: Officials are separated from their ownership of the resources of administration. Officials cannot use his official position for personal purposes.
  6. Written Documents: All administrative acts, rules, and decisions are documented in writing.
  7. Monocratic Type: functions of bureaucracy are monopolized and the function of an authorized official cannot be executed by any other organization.


To Control excessive power of  Bureaucracy, Weber suggested certain mechanism:
These mechanisms include five major categories:
  1. Collegiality:  To make bureaucracy more powerful,  a group of persons participate in the decision-making process instead of a single person.
  2. Separation of powers: Powers and responsibility are divided between two or more bodies.
  3. Amateur of administration: Non-professionals and interested individuals are also involved in the activities of the administration
  4. Direct democracy: Officials are guided by and are answerable to an assembly.
  5. Representation: The authority of bureaucracy is shared with the elected representatives of the people.

Problems in Bureaucracy:
  1.  Even though rules are provided for guidelines, it gets more importance than efficiency and productivity and the rigid organization hierarchy may act against efficiency.
  2. The impersonal approach neglects feeling, emotions and sentiments.
  3. Goal displacement by replacing organizational goal for following organizational rules
  4. Closed system perspective

Similarities and dissimilarities with scientific and administrative management theories:
While scientific management tried to streamline functions of a modern factory, and Administrative theory attempted to bring efficiency in the top management, Weber made an attempt at the rationalization of bureaucratic structures. All of them emphasized control and discipline in the working of organizations.  

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