Bureaucracy Theory of Management

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Bureaucracy Theory of Management

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Bureaucracy Theory of Management


Through the 1900s a lot of work on management has been presented to the world. The work of writers in management can be categorised in four main approaches: classical, human relations, systems and contingency. Typical classical writers from the early 1900s, main emphases were on the formal organisation and structure. The classical approach can be divided into two subgroups: the bureaucracy and the scientific management. Max Weber is seen as the most important management thinker of bureaucracy within this field (Elizabeth, 2008 78-84). Taylor is seen as the father of scientific management thinking. The classical writers have been criticised for not looking at the employees as individuals with different personality and personal needs. However, their work is still relevant today in the UK. Their structural factors are still used in some organisations.


During the 1920s the main emphasis was put on the social factors at work and on the behaviour of employees within an organisation. This is the human relations approach. In the period 1924-1932 researchers performed the famous Hawthorne experiments. These experiments investigated how different groups of workers reacted when they were influenced by different factors, such as light, longer breaks, commission payment and a personal interview programmes. They were not enough concerned about the environmental or the social factors (Elizabeth, 2008 78-84). On the other hand, the Hawthorne experiments did take management to another level. Factors like motivation, job design and team work were now seen as more relevant within management thinking.

Max Weber and Charles Handy are two management thinkers who have had major impact on management thinking. Weber was one of the earliest writers in the 1900s. As earlier mentioned, he belongs to the classical approach. Handy, who is still alive, belongs to the more recent approach that is the called the contingency. The aim of the following is to discuss whether Max Weber's and Charles Handy's thoughts are relevant today in the UK, and if one of them is more relevant than the other (Richard, 2009 pp 41-47).

Max Weber was concerned about power on one hand and authority on the other hand in organisational thinking. He divided the different sources of authority of legitimated power into three groups: the traditional, the charismatic and the legal-rational. The traditional organisation is divided into two types; the patrimonial form where the officials are servants depending on the boss to get paid. The second form within the traditional organisation is the feudal form, where the officials have rights and their own personal duties. The charismatic organisation is seen as with a superhuman leader with disciples who communicate between the leader and the mass (Richard, 2009 pp 41-47).

A bureaucracy is seen as the boss on top that sets all the rules and divides the tasks of the organisation down to each employee, which is a specialist in his or her area. They all are working in co-operation toward a common goal. The main responsibility of the employee is to follow the exact orders from the leader, and not to do what he or she thinks need to be done (Charles, 2009 pp 78-84). In the bureaucracy the employees are seen as different roles, not as individual persons.

One of the main factors that helped the bureaucracy on its way up is the fact that emotions and personal relationships are not accepted within the bureaucracy (Richard, 2009 pp 41-47). This prevented friendship and family feeling from getting in the way of accomplishing the organisation's goals. Weber's focus on the trend of rationalisation 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 measured to be a...
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