This article is an overview of Bureaucracy. After reading through, you will be able to define Bureaucracy according to different scholars. In this summary, you will also learn the features of Bureaucracy, merits, and demerits of Bureaucracy.
Max Weber a German sociologist define bureaucracy as the administrative system which is organized rationally, impersonally and according to official rules as a means of carrying out imperative control over human beings. He considered an ideal an ideal bureaucracy to that whose activities are rationally thought out and whose divisions of labour were explicitly spelled out.
Weber saw it as means of introducing Order, rationality, and definition of tasks and responsibilities within the structure of management which gave rise to a permanent administration and standardization of work procedures notwithstanding changes in the actual holders of the office.
Victor (2006), defined bureaucracy as a formalized and systemized method of administration which emphasized Impersonal relationship, Hierarchy of command and Control, Rationality, Merit and Objectivity, Communication etc.
Bamisile (2013), see bureaucracy as a structured arrangement that will enhance organizations efficiency thereby embracing organizational goal with higher productivity that makes the organization puts in place motivational factors that will make employees happy and ready to perform activities through well-stated rules.
Olofintola (2002), defined Bureaucracy as agencies responsible for government’s day to day functioning.
Features of Bureaucracy
- SPECIALIZATION: This is when professionals are employed to handle their area of competence. It shows the importance of the division of labour on the job. Weber advocates that job allocation should be on functional specialization.
- HIERARCHY AUTHORITY: This is making a clear-cut difference between the management and other employees, superior and subordinate, senior staff and junior staff. It shows that order should be given and followed by those concerned in the organization.
- SYSTEM OF RULES: This means that the rule in the workplace is superior to everyone. The theory states that everybody in the organization is a subject to the rule. Knowledge of the rules is a prerequisite to holding the job under bureaucracy.
- IMPERSONALITY: This is, saying that workers conduct their affairs without bias or favoritism in the application of rules, regulations, and policies. This will enhance discipline and promote unity thereby leading to higher employee productivity. Employees will see themselves as equals.
- CAREER ORIENTATION: This states that an employee will be deeply motivated in the career of his choice. The employee will adequately be informed and trained as the case may be from time to time.
- WRITTEN RECORDS: Weber is of the opinion that all transactions should be documented. This will enhance information management.
- SECURITY OF OFFICE: This implies that no employee in the organization can be sacked arbitrarily without recourse to a laydown rule.
Merits of Bureaucracy
- It eliminates favoritism and discrimination since roles and duties are performed according to laid down rules.
- It promotes organizations stability, uniformity, and continuity.
- It makes man predictable.
- It makes coordination very effective
- Only qualified personnel are employed and promoted in the organization.
- The working of the organization is clearly defined.
- It reduces organizational conflict.
- It prevents a clash of roles.
- It makes the division of labour very effective.
Demerits of Bureaucracy
- It prevents the use of personal initiative.
- It is not flexible i.e. not used in emergency cases.
- It encourages empire building and self-perpetuation in office.
- Strict compliance with rules slows down the pace of work.
- It is expensive as all information’s and activities must be documented.
- It is complex to operate.
- It brings about poor communication.
- It is insensitive to human interactions.