Bureaucracies

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Bureaucracies are out and post-Bureaucracies are in. Explain why you agree or disagree with this statement using examples to support your argument.

Organizations can be defined as either bureaucracies or post-bureaucracies, depending on four different characteristics. A bureaucratic organization is based around specialization and life-time careers, formal rules, an authoritative hierarchy, and the idea of impersonality. On the other hand a post-bureaucratic organization is centred on the idea of flexible careers, ‘shared values’, flatter hierarchies, and a more personal treatment of individuals. To this end it is important to consider the different types of organizations and also how the world has changed over the past few decades. These effects coupled with other factors have and still are slowly leading to the movement from bureaucracies to post-bureaucracies.

A major factor in showing the transfer to a system of post-bureaucracy is the change in attitudes regarding jobs and life time careers. Most people these days don’t want to be tied to a single career for their entire lives, especially not to the same company or firm. They want the freedom to change career paths later in life if they feel that it is necessary. As well as being in the same career path for one’s entire life, they do not want to be forced to work for the same company all their life. For example if someone is working in a typical investment bank type firm they are likely to be put under a large amount of pressure from the ‘higher-ups’ in the firm. So if the person does not enjoy this job then as well as the potential desire to leave the specific firm, this person may also want to change career paths completely. The idea of tenure has really been overridden by the desire to have flexibility in one’s career. Even in the government, a supposed bureaucratic type of organization within which people often have life time careers, there has recently been ‘rapid personnel changes in the home office, education and health care’ (Pollitt, C. 2008). This clearly shows the idea of tenure being overridden by the desire to have flexibility in one’s career.

Globalisation has also had a big impact on flexibility in the global job market. Specifically within the EU the mobility of labour is superb. People are able to move countries with such ease, meaning that the size of the job market for a UK national has suddenly increased from just the UK, to a large proportion of the continent. People are becoming increasingly open to travelling and working elsewhere around the world, meaning that temporary and part time work is becoming ever more popular, especially amongst the younger generations. It can be argued that this is not the most significant factor because the vast majority of people do want to stay within their home country and are not as open to adventure as some. Globalisation and the change in desire for life time careers, nevertheless, have still led to a transfer from bureaucracies to post-bureaucracies. This is shown in the government example that ‘A substantial number of public sector employees are at best insufficient and at worst burned out with public sector careers’ (Gabris, GT. 1995). Evidently life time careers are not necessarily the way forward, even in the public sector.

The UK government also contains a large number of specific rules and regulations, incorporating a very bureaucratic approach to organisations. The idea behind bureaucratic rules is that people follow them strictly and they are enforced properly, however this is rarely the case in an organization. Gouldners’ theory on ‘mock bureaucracy’ states that actually in practice rules are often ignored and that people will do a lot to get around them if they can. Specifically in the UK a lot of the red tape imposed by the government regarding health and safety is a large inconvenience so workers, in a factory based company for example, will try to avoid these regulations. Clearly this is...
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