Bureaucracy and Max Weber

Topics: Bureaucracy, Max Weber, Hierarchy Pages: 7 (2113 words) Published: November 3, 2011

1.0 Introduction

According to Stephen P. Robbins and Mary Coulter in their book titled Management, bureaucracy can be defined as a form of organisation characterised by division of labour, a clearly defined hierarchy, detailed rules and regulations, and impersonal relationship.

Bureaucracy usually gives a negative meaning in life. When it comes to bureaucracy, automatically people would imagine things like red-tape, filled form with too many information and too detail, small problems become complicated because of the rule to be abided and others. Even though we normally equalize bureaucracy with inefficiency, but the truth is, it represents efficiency because the advantages are more than disadvantages. Bureaucracy also can be regarded as an effective way created in order to move to a big organization.

The bigger and complicated a formal organization, the greater requirement needed to control and synchronize every member’s activities. The necessities can be fulfilled by bureaucracy, which is an authority structure operated under a rules and procedures. Max Weber defines organization as a social mechanism that maximizes efficiency and effectiveness in administration.

2.0 Characteristics of Bureaucracy by Max Weber
Weber's focus on the trend of rationalization led him to concern himself with the operation and expansion of large-scale enterprises in both the public and private sectors of modern societies Bureaucracy can be considered to be a particular case of rationalization, or rationalization applied to human organization. Bureaucratic coordination of human action, Weber believed, is the distinctive mark of modern social structures. In order to study these organizations, both historically and in contemporary society, Weber developed the characteristics of an ideal-type bureaucracy:

2.0.1 Written Rules of Conduct
According to Weber, all decisions, rules and actions taken by the organization are formulated and recorded in writing. Written documents ensure that there is continuity of the organization’s policies and procedures. (Cutajar, 2010) Weber stressed that rational bureaucracies must be managed in accordance with carefully developed rules and principles that can be learned and applied and that transactions and decisions must be recorded so that rules can he reviewed. Only with such rules and principles can the activities of hundreds of managers at different levels in the organization be predicted and coordinated. If we cannot predict what others will do, then we cannot count on them. 2.0.2 Hierarchy of Authority

Hierarchical authority is required in bureaucracies so that highly trained experts can be properly used as managers. (Borgatti, 2002) The type of authority laid down by Weber rests on the belief of in the legality of formal rules and hierarchies, and in the right of those elevated in the hierarchy to posses authority and issues command. Authority is given to the officials based on their skills, position and authority placed formally in each position. For instance, officer graduated from universities is respected more than the officer with no qualification from universities. He will be given more authorities and issues command. 2.0.3 Hierarchical Structure

According to Weber, bureaucracies are goal-oriented organizations designed according to rational principles in order to efficiently attain their goals. Offices are ranked in a hierarchical order, with information flowing up the chain of command, directives flowing down. It was self-evident that coordinating the divisions of large organizations requires clear lines of authority organized in a hierarchy. That means there are clear levels of graded authority. All employees in the organization must know who their boss...
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