What is Bureaucracy?

Bureaucracy is an administrative procedure that consists of organizing a large number of people who need to act together.

It is a model that is distinguished by the clear hierarchy of authority, the rigid division of labor, as well as inflexible rules, regulations and procedures. Among the main characteristics of the hierarchy is impersonality.

Public and private sector organizations, such as banks, universities, government agencies and companies, adopt bureaucracy in their operating model.

The inflexible hierarchy and the lack of questioning of pre-established rules are among the main criticisms of bureaucracy, especially with regard to serving the public. For critics of the system, bureaucracy is an outdated, inefficient and expensive model.

See also: What is Ideology?

Max Weber

The factors that lead critics to disapprove of bureaucracy are precisely those defended by the German sociologist Max Weber (1864 – 1920).

In his work, “What is bureaucracy” (1940), Weber states that bureaucracy makes administration efficient, effective, guarantees speed and rationality to work. In addition, he says that the model reduces internal work problems, as long as there are adequate managers to control the system.


  • Rigid hierarchy
  • Unyielding hierarchical authority
  • Inflexible rules, regulations and procedures
  • Impersonal relationships

See also: Capitalist mode of production


Weber argues that there are advantages to implementing the bureaucratic model, including the defense of the employee in the structure.

The members of the bureaucratic skeleton, according to the author, should receive a fixed salary, perform a fixed salary, sign an employment contract and be subject to the eminently technical performance of both the executor and the superior.


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