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  • Published on: 7th September 2019
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Although conventional wisdom associates the word bureaucracy with inefficiency and indifference to clients, it was originally put forth by Max Weber to be an ideal design for efficiency. (W.Bloisi, 2003)

If bureaucracy is into organizations, most of the cases companies are organized and very formal but at the same time strict and rigid which likely not going to adapt of new changes. There is advantages and disadvantages for bureaucracy and how that works in organisations.

German sociologist and political economist Max Weber (1864-1920) developed Bureaucratic Theory. His theory how to operate an organisation in effective and efficient way, described as the Weberian bureaucracy and according to M.Weber, bureaucracy is the most efficient form of organization. The organization has a well-defined line of authority and it has clear regulations and control which are strictly followed. He found different characteristics in bureaucracy how to be more efficient in decision making, protecting workers and accomplishing organizational goals.

M.Weber\'s ‘ideal type\' theory offered characteristics of bureaucratic organizations which are outlined below:

1. Proper division of labour by organisational function and clearly defined the job roles. Bureaucratic organisation will have different departments and offices with competence to their job roles. Each office has a clearly-defined area of qualifications and competence and all employees know they area in which they operate the areas in which they must abstain from action so that they do not overstep the boundary between their role and others. Clearly defined job roles help employees to do only their department tasks and to work on things where they qualified, are experienced and know they job well. Example: Sales department employee not going to do engineering department tasks or work, if they will have any tasks dealing with engineering or similar, sales department will pass to them.

2. Hierarchy. Second feature of bureaucratic organisation - there is hierarchy of positions in the organisation. Offices follow the principle of hierarchy which is - each lower office is subject for a control and supervision by higher office therefore no office is left uncontrolled. Individuals who held higher positions at work will manage and supervise lower positions. Example: Technology’s and network organizations will be high hierarchy oriented because of the division of labour (many different job titles and departments)

such as Apple, Tim Cook is the CEO and after him there are is his team, directors etc.

Figure 1 - Hierarchy Organization Chart

3. Creation of rules and policies to govern performance. Rules and regulations need to be followed in every step of the organization and they are equally relevant for every member of organization. Rules provide the benefits of security, constancy, and predictability and each employee knows specifically the outcome of their behaviour in a specific situation. In organisations rules and strict discipline helps to have high performance and have their targets done. Example: Organizations need to follow State and local Laws and regulations, keeping workers and workplace safe, keeping customers satisfied, etc.

4. Selection and promotions based on Qualifications. Clear career paths. Officials are selected and required based on their qualifications and employees get paid with salary not with benefices. The selection or promotion of employees should be based on their skills, experience, trainings etc. and not be influenced by personal relations or other benefits.

On employment, the office is the primary occupation of the employee and the employee looks forward to a long-life career in the organization, and this promotes continuity in an organization (Hatch, 2006, p. 102). The bureaucratic structure in organization would create an opportunity for employees to become a professional and technician within one specific area. When specialists get their performance stable because of knowledge and experience they have, employees can act more creatively and accomplish other goals and skills.

Rational-legal authority. Authority may be based on rational grounds and anchored in impersonal rules that have been legally enacted or contractually established and which has increasingly come to characterize hierarchical relations in modern society. ( Coser, 1977:226-227)

Authority is given to employees based on their position, competence and authority placed formally in each position. Rational-legal authority represents that obedience and respect not because of their title or the person who they are but to the roll they fill and that requires a systematic and convincing approach to leadership.

Advantages of bureaucracy

ϖ Authorities and top- level managers in to the business make it effective in organizing. They control over organizational strategy decisions and ensuring that lower level employees are working and doing their tasks effectively and efficiently.

ϖ Supports and select officials who are specialized and with qualifications. Organization will want to have officials who have educational backgrounds and knows the job which are they applying to, and as result tasks are effectively carried out.

ϖ Promotion because of the experience, knowledge and skills to handle the job not simply because he or she is relative to some or friend to some manager or high ranking employee. Example: University will promote employees because of their knowledge and skills not because he or she is relative to someone. More training, studying and experience achieves higher position and promotion in universities and be more efficient and effective.

ϖ Bureaucratic structures want specialization of jobs leading to economies of scale as employees and workers function repetitively with increased proficiency and efficiency. Departments in bureaucratic organizations share resources and information efficiently and that helps to increase economies of scale.

ϖ Division of labour help employees to be experts in their roles so therefore performance and efficiency is going to be high. Example: Every employee has their own job and specializations, in car manufacturing some employees will design the cars, other workers will work on testing them and others putting tyres, lights etc. and all of them will be experts on what they doing because of the experience and division of labour.

ϖ All workers need to follow rules and regulations on bureaucratic organizations. That leads to consistency of employees and their behaviours, therefore management process and development becomes easier.

Disadvantages of bureaucracy

ϖ Inability to change quickly. Any information or certain procedures must be passed through many chains of decisions, evaluations and instructions before getting approval. So therefore, smaller or less bureaucratic organizations can be a threat because they will deal with problems or any decisions much quicker than bureaucratic organizations.   

ϖ Loads of paperwork. If official will want to sort out any problems or get through some procedures, he or she will go through loads of departments, that means loads of paperwork and rules to go through to get the right department which can help. Every decision need to be put into writing so therefore, a lot of paperwork and regulations are time consuming and that can be ineffective for customers or employees.

ϖ In bureaucratic organization rules and regulations makes it rigid and inflexible. Everyone need to stick with the rules and that can decrease creativity and innovations. Lower employees can innovate or develop new things in to the organization to help to grow it, but because of Rules and regulations takes over employees needs and interests.

ϖ Employees are divided in to the offices or their departments, which restrict employees to be more productive and performing tacks for any other departments, even if employees have knowledge for more than one department. Employees need to stick on their department because of the division of labour.


Analysing the Max Webbers’ characteristics for ‘ideal bureaucracy’, finding and evaluating advantages, disadvantages can see from my research how effective and efficient his bureaucracy is for organizations. This bureaucracy is most efficient because of the clear chain of commands, regulations and rules which are rigidly followed. This Weber’s theory helps organizations to achieve high performance level and have their targets on time because in his bureaucracy all employees are skilled and experts on their departments and that helps organization to be more efficient and effective.  In his bureaucracy, there is some weaknesses such us - limits employee’s creativity, inability to change that quickly and loads of paperwork but in nowadays, network helps to have less paperwork and quicker to change in to organizations. Max Weber’s bureaucracy is not going to work for all organizations but it will work for rigid, strict and formally structured ones, which will increase efficiency and effectives.

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