Bureaucratic Theory of Management and Love or Hate Relationship

All types of private and government organizations can have a bureaucratic style of management.  One of the great challenges for all of us that there is no alternative for the bureaucratic model of management for a large organization whether it is government or non-governmental organizations. Interestingly, Max Weber did not define bureaucracy. Weber researched organizations and tried to formulate an "ideal prototype" for organizations. For this, he has mentioned 6 principles or features and whenever these features exist in any place, it becomes a bureaucratic organizational form.

Laid the theoretical foundations about how large organizations should work, Max Weber was the first to introduce bureaucracy through the 'Legal and Rational Model'. Max Weber is the inventor of the ideal bureaucracy and regarded as the father of bureaucratic management.

The Bureaucratic Theory of Management

The features of Weber's bureaucracy are still evident in large private and government agencies, be they universities, MNCs, or hospitals. His theory has become the structural design of many large organizations today.

There can be bureaucracy in any organization - I mean - in all types of organizations!

The main features of bureaucracy according to Max Weber are six.

Sociologist Max Weber outlines six of the features of bureaucratic organization.

1. Division of Work:

The tasks required to carry out the objectives of the organization are distributed among the officers and employees as a daily duty of the office. All tasks are to be divided into smaller parts. The persons with a skill need to do the jobs with his skill. If you have knowledge of computer science and software engineering then you will have a job in the information technology section or IT department. As a result, the efficiency of the employee increases due to repeating one task over and over again.  The bureaucratic organization is based on the principle of division of labour and specialization. The working procedure of the bureaucratic organization is guided by law. In this, every employee has to perform his duties in his own field.

2. Hierarchies

Bureaucratic organizations follow the hierarchical policy, that is, there is a superior-inferior relationship. According to this principle, different positions are classified and organized. Every lower position is governed by a higher position. It is the order of the superior officer and lower officers. One can easily understand from the organizational chart of an organization that who will do what? Who will be responsible to whom?

This hierarchical principle is similar to the scalar chain of Henri Fayol. Hierarchical levels or steps refer to where each of the persons working at the lower level is subordinate to and responsible to the persons at the upper level.

3. Written rules and regulations: rules and regulations should be formal and written. People will not be confused. Excessive formality in bureaucracy, excessive rigidity of rules and procedure are given importance. Everything is done according to the rules. All work is routine.


4. Impersonality - Bureaucratic administration is a politically neutral organization. Since bureaucrats are not involved in politics, they carry out their duties in a regular manner, avoiding hatred and passion. The employee keeps his personal life separate from his administrative life. Equal rules and systems are for all.


5. Formal Selection - Appointments in administration are to be made on the basis of merit through competitive examinations. They are promoted on the basis of seniority and achievement. The process should be dependent on technical skill. For example BCS Recruitment and Promotion.


6. Career Orientation: The service of bureaucrats is permanent till a certain age. They are in service until they retire remaining in force. They remain even after the change of government. On the ground of criminal activities and some disabilities, they can be fired. They are professional and salaried. They receive salaries and allowances from the state treasury.

The Emergence and Importance of Bureaucratic Theory

Before the nineteenth century, the functions of the state and of various institutions were confined to a narrow range. The Industrial Revolution resulted in the creation of many businesses and factories. The process of urbanization increased as many people came to the city from the villages in search of work. And as the ideas of democracy and capitalism became popular, the functions of the state began to increase enormously.

The state has to perform various important and complex tasks for the betterment of the economic, social, political and cultural life of the individual. But it is not possible for a handful of political representatives to carry out these diverse tasks properly. So they have to rely on a large number of permanent and loyal government employees.

The importance of bureaucracy is growing with the increased work of the state. Lack of knowledge of political administrators (for examples making laws or setting government policy) is one of the big reasons. Most members of the legislature or ministers do not have the amount of general and technical knowledge and skills required. Therefore, they set the law or general policy of the government and entrust the responsibility of perfecting it to the bureaucrats who are permanent, prudent, and far-sighted and have gained experience by performing administrative tasks for a long time.

The role of bureaucrats in the implementation of government laws, policies, etc. is immense. Policies and judicial decisions made by the organization are worthless if not implemented. As a result, the basic objectives of the government remain ineffective. The practical implementation of government laws, policies, etc. depends on the sincerity, efficiency and cooperation of government employees. It is impossible to maintain the existence of a modern government without the help of permanent government employees.

Criticism of Max Weber's Bureaucracy

Max Weber's bureaucracy theory has been criticized several times in movies and documentaries and so on. Any organization needs different rules and regulations to operate and if the principles do not solve the work of the people or the customer, then why the existence of the organization!  

The good side of strict rules - the rules need to be implemented in the same way.

The bad side of strict rules - Slow - the patient had died before the doctor came!

Red tape -  Rules and regulations do not work and some corrupted officials can keep the file longer and ask for a bribe.

Inefficiency and irrational

Some tasks need to be implemented by lobbying and speed money.

Creativity and initiatives are limited.

The bureaucracy described by Weber is much like scientific management in its ideology. Both theories emphasized rationality, impersonality, efficiency, technical skill, and authoritarianism.


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