Introduction to Administration / Bureaucracy Theory

The Bureaucracy is a widely used administrative concept, mainly characterized by a hierarchical system, with high division of responsibility, where its members perform invariably rules and standard procedures, such as gears of a machine. The Bureaucracy Theory as proposed by Weber, includes your mother in my life of impersonality, the concentration of the administration’s means, a leveling effect between social and economic differences and the implementation of a system of authority that is practically indestructible. Weber’s analysis of bureaucracy relates to:

  • the historical and administrative reasons for the bureaucratization process (especially in Western civilization)
  • the impact of the rule of law on the functioning of bureaucratic organizations
  • the typical personal orientation and occupational position of bureaucratic officers as a status group
  • the most important attributes and consequences of bureaucracy in bureaucratic organization in the modern world

Index

  • 1Origins
  • 2Main features
    • 1Legal character of rules and regulations
    • 2Formal nature of communications
    • 3Rationalism and division of labor
    • 4Impersonality and Hierarchy
    • 5Standardized routines and procedures
    • 6Meritocracy
    • 7Professionalization
    • 8Predictability
  • 3Advantages of Bureaucracy
  • 4Bureaucratic Rationality (dilemmas)
    • 1Bureaucracy is based on
    • 2Expected consequences
    • 3Objectives
  • 5Dysfunctions of bureaucracy
    • 1Internalization of rules and exaggerated adherence to regulations
    • 2Excess of formalism and notary
    • 3Resistance to change
    • 4Depersonalization of the relationship
    • 5Categorization as the basis of the decision-making process
    • 6Over-compliance with routines and procedures
    • 7Display of authority signs
    • 8Difficulty in serving customers and conflicts with the public
  • 6Critical appreciation
  • 7References

Origins [ edit | edit source code ]

The Bureaucracy Theory developed within the administration around the 1940s, mainly due to the following aspects:

1 – The fragility and partiality of both Classical Theory and Theory of Human Relations , which do not allow a global, integrated and involving approach to organizational problems;

2 – the need for a rational organization model capable of characterizing all the variables involved, as well as the behavior of the members participating in it, is applicable not only to the factory, but to all forms of human organization and mainly to companies;

3 – the growing size and complexity of companies now demand much more defined organizational models.

4 – the resurgence of Sociology of Bureaucracy, from the discovery of the works of Max Weber , its creator.

According to this theory, a man can be paid to act and behave in a certain way, which must be explained to him, in great detail and, under no circumstances, allowing his emotions to interfere with his performance. The Sociology of Bureaucracy proposed an organization model and the administrators were quick to try to apply them in practice in their companies. From there, the Bureaucracy Theory in Administration arises.

So bureaucracy is a form of organization that is based on rationality, that is, on the adequacy of the means to the intended objectives (ends), in order to guarantee the maximum possible efficiency in achieving the objectives.

Weber identifies three main factors that favor the development of modern bureaucracy:

  • The development of a monetary economy: In Bureaucracy, currency takes the place of in-kind remuneration for employees, allowing the centralization of authority and the strengthening of bureaucratic administration;
  • The quantitative and qualitative growth of the administrative tasks of the Modern State;
  • The technical superiority – in terms of efficiency – of the bureaucratic type of administration: it served as an autonomous force to impose its prevalence.

Technological development made administrative tasks tend to improve to accompany it. Thus, social systems grew too much, large companies began to mass produce, suffocating small ones. In addition, in large companies there is an increasing need to obtain control and greater predictability of their operation.

According to the popular concept, bureaucracy is generally viewed as a company, office or organization where the registry multiplies and expands, preventing quick and efficient solutions. The term is also used with the employees’ sense of attachment to regulations and routines, causing inefficiency to the organization. The layman started to give the defects of the system the name of bureaucracy.

However, for Max Weber, bureaucracy is exactly the opposite, it is the efficient organization par excellence and to achieve this efficiency, bureaucracy needs to detail in advance and in the smallest details how things should happen.

Main features [ edit | edit source code ]

Legal character of rules and regulations [ edit | edit source code ]

It is an organization bound by rules and regulations previously established in writing. It is based on its own legislation that defines in advance how the organization should operate.

  • They are written.
  • They seek to cover all areas of the organization.
  • It is a rationally organized social structure.
  • They give people vested with authority a power of coercion over subordinates and also the coercive means capable of imposing discipline.
  • They enable standardization within the company.

Formal character of communications [ edit | edit source code ]

Bureaucracy is an organization linked by written communication. All actions and procedures are done in writing to provide adequate proof and documentation.

Rationalism and division of labor [ edit | edit source code ]

Bureaucracy is an organization that is characterized by a systematic division of labor. This division of labor meets a rationality that is adequate to the objective to be achieved, that is, the efficiency of the organization, through:

  • functional aspect of bureaucracy;
  • systematic division of labor, law and power;
  • establishing the duties of each participant;
  • each participant is given his specific position, his specific functions and his area of ​​competence and responsibility;
  • each participant knows his / her ability to command the others and the limits of his / her task;

Impersonality and Hierarchy [ edit | edit source code ]

This distribution of activity is done impersonally, that is, it is done in terms of positions and functions and not of people involved:

  • considers people as occupants of positions and functions;
  • the power of each person is impersonal and derives from the position he holds;
  • obeys the superior not in consideration of the person, but in the position he occupies;
  • people come and go, but the positions remain;
  • each position covers an area or sector of competence and responsibility.

Bureaucracy establishes positions according to the principle of hierarchy:

  • each inferior must be under the supervision of a superior;
  • there is no position without control or supervision;
  • hierarchy is order and subordination, the graduation of authority corresponding to the different categories of participants, employees and classes;
  • the positions are defined by means of limited and specific rules.

Standardized routines and procedures [ edit | edit source code ]

The bureaucracy sets the rules and technical standards for the performance of each position:

  • The person in charge cannot do what he wants, but what the bureaucracy requires him to do;
  • discipline at work and job performance are ensured by a set of rules and standards, which attempt to adjust the employee to the requirements of the job and organizations;
  • all activities in each position are carried out according to clearly defined standards.

Meritocracy [ edit | edit source code ]

In bureaucracy the choice of people is based on merit and technical competence:

  • admission, transfer and promotion of employees are based on criteria valid for the entire organization;
  • need for exams, competitions, tests and titles for the admission and promotion of employees.

Professionalization [ edit | edit source code ]

Bureaucracy is an organization that is characterized by the professionalization of its participants. Each employee is a professional for the following reasons:

  • is an expert, that is, each employee is specialized in the activities of their position;
  • is paid – bureaucratic employees participate in the organization and receive wages corresponding to the position they occupy;
  • he is appointed by a hierarchical superior;
  • his term of office is indefinite;
  • follows a career within the organization;
  • he does not own the means of production, the professional administrator manages the organization on behalf of the owners;
  • is loyal to the position and identifies with the company’s objectives, the employee starts to defend the interests of his position and his organization.

Predictability [ edit | edit source code ]

Weber’s bureaucratic model starts from the assumption that the behavior of the organization’s members is perfectly predictable:

  • employees must behave in accordance with the organization’s rules and regulations;
  • everything in the bureaucracy is established in order to predict all occurrences and turn their execution into a routine.

Advantages of Bureaucracy [ edit | edit source code ]

Weber saw countless reasons to explain the bureaucratic advance over other forms of association.

  • Rationality in relation to the achievement of the organization’s objectives;
  • Precision in the definition of the position and in the operation, due to the exact knowledge of the duties;
  • Speed ​​in decisions, therefore, each one knows what must be done, by whom and the orders and papers are processed through pre-established channels;
  • Univocity of interpretation guaranteed by specific and written regulations. The information is discreet, since it is passed on only to those who should receive it;
  • Uniformity of routines and procedures that favors standardization, cost reduction and errors, as the procedures are defined in writing;
  • Continuity of the organization through the replacement of personnel who are removed;
  • Reduction in the level of friction among people, as each employee knows what is required of them and what are the limits between their responsibilities and those of the other;
  • Constancy, because the same types of decisions must be made in the same circumstances;
  • Tying the youngest to the oldest in a strict and well-known manner, so that the supervisor can make decisions that affect the lowest level;
  • Reliability, because the business is conducted according to known rules. Decisions are predictable and the decision-making process eliminates personal discrimination;
  • Benefits from the perspective of people in the organization, as the hierarchy is formalized, work is divided among people in an orderly manner, people are trained to become experts in their fields People can make a career in the organization according to their personal merit and technical competence.

Bureaucratic Rationality (dilemmas) [ edit | edit source code ]

Rationality is a concept closely linked to Bureaucracy for Weber and implies the adaptation of means to ends. In the bureaucratic context, this means efficiency.

Bureaucracy is based on [ edit | edit source code ]

  • legal character of the rules.
  • formal character of communications.
  • impersonality in the relationship.
  • the division of labor.
  • hierarchy of authority.
  • routines and procedures.
  • technical competence and merit.
  • management expertise.
  • predictability of operation.

Expected consequences [ edit | edit source code ]

  • predictability of human behavior.
  • standardization of the participants’ performance.

Objectives [ edit | edit source code ]

organization efficiency:

  • an organization is rational if the most efficient means are chosen for the implementation of the goals,
  • functional rationality is achieved by the elaboration – based on scientific knowledge – of rules that serve to direct, starting from above, all behavior against efficiency.

Weber uses the term bureaucratization in a broader sense, also referring to the ways of acting and thinking that exist not only in the organizational context, but that permeate all social life.

Dysfunctions of bureaucracy [ edit | edit source code ]

There are eight unforeseen consequences :

Internalization of rules and exaggerated adherence to regulations [ edit | edit source code ]

Rules and regulations turn from means to objectives. They become absolute and priority. The employee acquires “visors” and forgets that flexibility is one of the main characteristics of any rational activity. The regulations become the main objectives of the bureaucrat, who starts to work for them!

Too much formalism and paperwork [ edit | edit source code ]

It is the most glaring dysfunction of the bureaucracy. The need to document and formalize all communications can lead to a tendency towards excessive formalism, documentation and, consequently, paperwork.

Resistance to change [ edit | edit source code ]

The employee accustomed to the repetition of what he does, simply becomes an executor of routines and procedures. Anything new becomes a threat to your security. With this, the change becomes undesirable.

Depersonalization of the relationship [ edit | edit source code ]

One of the characteristics of bureaucracy is impersonality in the relationship between employees, as it emphasizes positions and not people, leading to a decrease in personalized relations between members of the organization.

Categorization as the basis for decision-making [ edit | edit source code ]

Bureaucracy is based on a rigid hierarchy of authority, so the decision maker will be the one highest in the hierarchy.

Over-compliance with routines and procedures [ edit | edit source code ]

Bureaucracy is based on routines and procedures as a means of ensuring that people do exactly what is expected of them: the rules become absolute, the rules and routine become sacred to the employee, who starts to work according to the regulations and routines and not according to the organizational objectives that were actually established.

Display of authority signs [ edit | edit source code ]

As the bureaucracy emphasizes the hierarchy of authority, a system is needed that indicates to everyone, with whom the power is.

Hence the tendency towards the intensive use of status symbols or signs to demonstrate the hierarchical position, such as the uniform, location of the room, bathroom, parking, cafeteria, type of table, etc.

Difficulty in serving customers and conflicts with the public [ edit | edit source code ]

The employee is completely focused on the organization, its internal rules and regulations, its routines and procedures.

As a result, bureaucracy becomes sclerotic, closes itself to the customer, which is its own objective, and totally impedes innovation and creativity.

The causes of the dysfunctions of the bureaucracy basically lie in the fact that it does not take into account the so-called informal organization that exists fatally in any type of organization, nor is it concerned with human variability (individual differences between people), which necessarily introduces variations in performance organizational activities.

In view of the demand for control that guides all organizational activity, the unforeseen consequences of bureaucracy arise.

Bureaucratic Dysfunctions

  • internalization of standards,
  • excessive formalism and paperwork,
  • resistance to change,
  • difficulty in making fast decisions,
  • depersonalization of the relationship,
  • categorization of decisions,
  • super compliance,
  • display of authority signs and
  • difficulties with customers.

Critical appraisal [ edit | edit source code ]

Weber, quoted in Chiavenato (2003), considers bureaucracy as the most efficient and rational way to achieve organizational goals. Perrow, defends bureaucracy as an important factor for the efficiency of the organization structure . According to him, the dysfunctions of the bureaucracy are only consequences of the failure of an ill-suited bureaucracy.

Katz and Kahn argue that bureaucracy is a super-rationalized organization, and does not consider the environment and the organizational nature. Both argue that people make the benefits bigger than they really are. For them, the bureaucratic system only survives because the demands of the environment are obvious and the demands of individual tasks are minimal, requiring no major processes.

Bennis, according to Chiavenato (2003), criticizes the bureaucracy from the point of view that his control system is already outdated and is not able to resolve internal conflicts. In fact, he defines Weber’s bureaucracy as mechanistic, believing that it tends to disappear due to rapid environmental changes, in addition to the increase and complexity of the organizations that are emerging.

Finally, Chiavenato (2003) describes a careful criticism in which he says that bureaucracy is perhaps one of the best alternatives, because taking into account the previous theories, which are prescriptive and normative, she is concerned with describing and explaining organizations, giving the administrator the choice he considers most appropriate.

One of the descriptions of the theory of bureaucracy cites the same is the mentality and behavior tied to formalisms, which makes public services difficult, paralyzing or slow. One of the first applications of the term “bureaucracy” dates back to the eighteenth century, when the term was loaded with a strong negative connotation, designating aspects of power of officials of a state administration to which specialized functions were assigned, under an absolute monarchy. This definition fits very closely to that used today in common language: bureaucracy as a synonym for excess of rules and regulations, limitation of initiative, waste of resources and generalized inefficiency of state and private bodies. There is a reciprocal influence between capitalism and bureaucracy. Without bureaucratic organization, capitalist production would never have been realized. On the other hand, the capitalist economic base is essential for the development of bureaucratic administration. Therefore, the word “bureaucracy” has a pejorative meaning in our daily lives. We call bureaucracy the exaggeration of rules and regulations, administrative inefficiency, waste of resources. However, for sociology, this term has a special meaning. Since it started to be used by Max Weber (1864? 1920), it designates a specific model of administrative organization, for what is seen in its initial contextualization is that it had served as a fundamental model for the so-called “New Public Administration” or “Managerial”. the capitalist economic base is essential for the development of bureaucratic administration. Therefore, the word “bureaucracy” has a pejorative meaning in our daily lives. We call bureaucracy the exaggeration of rules and regulations, administrative inefficiency, waste of resources. However, for sociology, this term has a special meaning. Since it started to be used by Max Weber (1864? 1920), it designates a specific model of administrative organization, for what is seen in its initial contextualization is that it had served as a fundamental model for the so-called “New Public Administration” or “Managerial”. the capitalist economic base is essential for the development of bureaucratic administration. Therefore, the word “bureaucracy” has a pejorative meaning in our daily lives. We call bureaucracy the exaggeration of rules and regulations, administrative inefficiency, waste of resources. However, for sociology, this term has a special meaning. Since it started to be used by Max Weber (1864? 1920), it designates a specific model of administrative organization, for what is seen in its initial contextualization is that it had served as a fundamental model for the so-called “New Public Administration” or “Managerial”. the waste of resources. However, for sociology, this term has a special meaning. Since it started to be used by Max Weber (1864? 1920), it designates a specific model of administrative organization, for what is seen in its initial contextualization is that it had served as a fundamental model for the so-called “New Public Administration” or “Managerial”. the waste of resources. However, for sociology, this term has a special meaning. Since it started to be used by Max Weber (1864? 1920), it designates a specific model of administrative organization, for what is seen in its initial contextualization is that it had served as a fundamental model for the so-called “New Public Administration” or “Managerial”.

 

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