Bureaucracy

Professor: Mohammed Alazzawi.

Maximilian Carl Emil Weber (Max Weber)

Maximilian Carl Emil Weber (Born: April 21, 1864 in Erfurt, Germany – Died: June 14, 1920 in Munich, Germany from Pneumonia) was a German political economist and sociologist who was considered one of the founders of the modern study of sociology and public administration. He began his career at the University of Berlin, and later worked at Freiburg University, University of Heidelberg, University of Vienna and University of Munich. He was influential in contemporary German politics, being an advisor to Germany's negotiators at the Treaty of Versailles and to the commission charged with drafting the Weimar Constitution.

Weber’s Six Major Principles
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A formal hierarchical structure. Management by rules. Organization by functional specialty. An "up-focused" or "in-focused" mission. Purposely impersonal. Employment based on technical qualifications. Predisposition to grow in staff "above the line."

What is bureaucracy?

Weber perceived bureaucracy as a threat to basic personal liberties; he also recognized it as the most efficient possible system of organizing. He predicted the triumph of bureaucracy because of its ability to ensure more efficient functioning of organizations in both business and government settings. Weber identified a set of organizational characteristics.that could be found in successful bureaucratic organizations. Rules and standard procedures enabled organizational activities to be performed in a predictable, routine manner. Specialized duties meant that each employee had a clear task to perform. Hierarchy of authority provided a sensible mechanism for supervision and control. Technical competence was the basis by which people were hired rather than friendship, family ties, and favoritism, which dramatically reduced work performance. The separation of the position from the position holder meant that individuals did not own or have an inherent right to the job, which promoted efficiency. Written records provide an organizational memory and continuity and over time. Although bureaucratic characteristics carried to an extreme are widely criticized today, the rational control introduced by Weber was a significant idea and a new form of organization.

Origin of Bureaucracy

The word Bureaucracy stems from the words “bureau” used from the early 18th century in Western Europe not just to refer to a writing desk, but to an office or workplace, where officials worked. The original French meaning of the word Bureau was the baize used to cover desks.

Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy is the structure and set of regulation in place to control activity, usually in large organizations and government. It is characterized by rule following procedures, formal division of responsibility, hierarchy and impersonal relationships. In practice the interpretation and execution of policy can lead to informal influence. Bureaucracy is a concept in sociology and political science referring to the way that the administrative execution and enforcement of legal rules are socially organized.

Max Weber on Bureaucracy

Max Weber has probably been one of the most influential users of the word in the social science sense. He is well-known for his study of bureaucratization of society; many aspects of modern public administration go back to him. Weber described the ideal type of Bureaucracy in positive terms, considering it to be more rational and efficient from of organization than the alternatives that preceded it, which he characterized as charismatic domination and traditional domination. According to his terminology, Bureaucracy is part of legal domination. However, he also emphasized that Bureaucracy becomes inefficient when a decision must be adopted to an individual case.

The key characteristics of Bureaucracy

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Specification of jobs with detailed rights, obligations, responsibilities, scope of authority. System of supervision and subordination. Unity of Command. Extensive use of written documents. Training in job requirements and skills. Application of consistent and complete rules (company manual). Assign work and hire personnel based on competence and experience.

A True Bureaucratic Story!

Let’s say it was a large telephone company, and one day someone counted up the number of copiers in the 25-story building, and found that there were 118 copiers spread throughout the entire central office building. Eager to be "efficient" and desiring to be a hero, this person presented a proposal to management to replace the 118 different kinds and sizes of machines with 2 "power copiers" in a copying department. The proposal showed how the new copying department could be run by two operators and a supervisor. It would use less space, and would save each secretary in the organization an estimated 14 minutes per day, which was the equivalent of 16 people saved, etc., etc. So, without knowing it, the organization was off and running with a perfect example of optimizing a subfunction. The company installed the copying department on the seventh floor, picked up all 118 copiers and began saving money. The first day in operation, the copying department was besieged by secretaries (and other people) who wanted copies made, and there was a long line. Secretaries were waiting up to an hour to place their orders for copies. Within a day or two, everyone was aware that there were problems. So, they decided that all secretaries would "mail" their requests to copying, via inter-company mail, and the mail room would bring the finished copies back when they were done.

The first problem with that was that the mail room was only making two trips a day around the building, so turnaround on copies went to a minimum of two or even three days. So, they decided to add four people to the mail room, and double the number of trips around the building. This brought turnaround to two days "guaranteed." Well, it turns out that two days was too long for certain "emergency" items, and for certain "high level" people, so a red tag was established to give certain items 24-hour turnaround. By now, however, there were two more people in the copying department. One was organizing inputs so the operators could keep on copying, and the other person took the outputs and addressed them to the people who needed them. The next problem was that things started getting lost. People would send things to copying and never get anything back. And, other people were getting copies they hadn’t ordered. So, the copying department decided to add a series of controls to ensure nothing got lost, and a time stamp, because people were complaining that they weren’t getting a two-day response. This all required two more clerical people in the copying department to handle the complicated forms that were introduced so that nothing ever got lost.

By now, secretaries and their bosses were up in arms. They didn’t trust the copying department with anything important, so for important items, they would stop by quick copy shops on the way home. And, a couple of departments pooled their petty cash to buy home-style, inexpensive copiers that they would use for urgent items. Pretty soon, the accounting department became aware of the new "outside" copying costs, and individual departments were attempting to assign the outside copying costs to the copying department. The copying department then went to war (with their own customers!). They got a senior VP to issue a mandate that all personal copiers would be taken out immediately, citing some vague danger of liability or safety violations. In addition, the mandate stated that all "outside" copying would cease, and that the company would not pay for it. In an attempt to mollify the angry customers, the senior VP authorized a full second shift of operators and clerical people in the copying department, with a new guarantee of 24-hour turnaround time for everybody. Well, I could go on with this story, because things actually got worse than this. By the end, every manager of any stature had a personal copier at home. There was a 24hour quick copy shop down the street that would make copies, but issue invoices for "office supplies," that quickly became one of the top ten copy shops in the country for the franchisee.

And, worse than all of that, meetings couldn’t be called on anything less than a one-week schedule to ensure that everyone got notified, and copies of the agenda were prepared, etc. Now, you might think that all of this chaos would generate somebody who would say, "this isn’t working, let’s go back to the old way." But no. Sadly enough, this was a very bureaucratic organization (as if you hadn’t guessed), and the powers that be were reluctant to admit they had made a mistake, so they just persisted. What finally solved the problem was another bright young "efficiency" person who examined the situation and prepared another proposal to management. By now there were 17 people full time in two shifts in the copy department. The new proposal suggested that the 17 people department be disbanded, and replaced by 94 optimally situated copiers (of the same brand, size, and capability, because standardization was highly prized). The justification was the net savings of over $100,000 per year. So, in this case, the centralized copying department was disbanded, the 94 optimally-situated copiers were installed (all of the same size, brand and capability), and once again the organization was able to resume its normal work in a normal way.

The Seven principles of Bureaucracy
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Official business is conducted on a continuous basis Official business is conducted with strict rules. Every official’s responsibilities and authority are part of a vertical hierarchy of authority, with respective rights of supervision and appeal. Officials do not own the recourses necessary for the performance of their assigned functions but are accountable for their use of these resources Official and private business and income are strictly separated. Offices cannot be appropriated by their incumbents (inherited, sold, etc.) Official business is conducted on the basis of written documents.

Bureaucratic Control

Bureaucratic control is the use of rules, hierarchy of authority, written documentation, standardization and other bureaucratic control uses the bureaucratic characteristics defined by Weber and illustrated in the UPS case. The primary purpose of bureaucratic rules and procedures is to standardize and control employee behavior. Within a large organization, thousands of work behaviors and information exchanges take place both vertically and horizontally. Rules and policies evolve through a process of trial and error to regulate these behaviors. Some degree of bureaucratic control is used in vertically every organization. Rules, regulations and directives contain information about a range of behaviors. To make bureaucratic control work, managers must have the authority to maintain control over the organization. Weber argued that legitimate, rational authority granted to managers was preferred over other types of control (i.e. favoritism or payoffs) as the basis for organizational decisions and activities. Within the larger society, however, Weber identified three types of authority that could explain the creation and control of a large organization. The goal of Bureaucratic control is employee competence.

The Bureaucratic Official
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Is personally free and appointed to his position on the basis of conduct. Exercises the authority delegated to him in accordance with impersonal rules, and his loyalty is enlisted on behalf of the faithful execution of his official duties. Appointment and job replacement are dependent upon his technical qualification. Administrative work is a full-time occupation. Work is rewarded by a regular salary and prospects of advancement in a lifetime career.

Machine Bureaucracy

Is typical of a large well-established companies in simple, dynamic environment. Work is highly specialized and formalized, and decision making is usually concentrated at the top. Standardization of work process is the primary coordinating mechanism. This highly bureaucratic structure does not have to adapt quickly to changes because the environment is both simple and stable. examples include large mass-production firms such as Container Corporation of America, some automobile companies and providers of services to mass -markets, such as insurance companies.

Professional Bureaucracy

Usually found In a complex and stable environment, the professional bureaucracy relies on standardization of skills and the primary means of coordination. There is much horizontal specialization by professional areas of where the expertise is. The only means of coordination available to the organization is standardization of skills. Those of the professionally trained employees. Although it lacks in centralization, the professional bureaucracy stabilized and controls its tasks with rules and procedures developed in the relevant profession. Hospitals, Universities and consulting firms are examples.

Bureaucracy in a changing world

The world is rapidly changing, however, and the machinelike bureaucratic system of the industrial age no longer works so well as organization face new challenges. With global competition and uncertain environments, many organizations are fighting against increasing formalization and professional staff ratios. The problems caused by over-bureaucratization are evident in the inefficiencies of some U.S government organizations. Some agencies have so many clerical staff members and confusing job titles that no one is really sure who does what. Richard Cavanaugh, once an aide to President Jimmy Carter, reports his favorite federal title as the “administrative assistant to the assistant administrator for administration of the General Services Administration”. Many business organizations, too, need to reduced formalization and bureaucracy. Narrowly defined job descriptions, for example, tend to limit the creativity, flexibility, and rapid response needed in today’s knowledge-based organization. One sales consultant tells a story of giving a presentation on a new media product to a company whose managers admitted it was exactly what they needed, but the extensive formalization and precise job descriptions in the organization meant no one had the authority to make the purchase for that type of product.

The Bureaucratic culture

The bureaucratic culture has an internal focus and a consistency orientation for a stable environment. This organization has a culture that supports a methodical approach to doing business. Symbols, heroes, and ceremonies support cooperation, traditional, and following established policies and practices as ways to achieve goals. Personal involvement is somewhat lower here, but that is outweighed by a high level of consistency, conformity, and collaboration among members. This organization succeeds by being highly integrated and efficient. Today, most managers are shifting away from bureaucratic culture because of need for greater flexibility. However, one thriving new company, Pacific Edge Software, has successfully implemented some elements of a bureaucratic culture, ensuring that all its projects are on time and on budget. The husband-and-wife team of Lisa Hjorten and Scott Fuller implanted a culture of order, discipline, and control from the moment they founded the company. The emphasis on order and focus means an employee can generally go home by 6:00 P.M rather than working all night to finish an important project. Hjorten insists that the company’s culture isn’t rigid or uptight, just careful. Although sometimes being careful means being slow, so far Pacific Edge has managed to keep pace with the demands of the external environment.

Advantages of Bureaucracy
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Precision. Speed. Clarity in communication. Reduction of friction. Reduction of personal costs.

Disadvantages of Bureaucracy
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Multiplication of administrative functions Vertical structure Many levels of management Much paperwork, routine and "red tape" Impersonal officials working to a fixed routine without necessarily exercising intelligent judgment.

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Each department has its own agenda, and departments don’t cooperate to help other departments get the job done. The head of a department feels responsible first for protecting the department, its people and its budget, even before helping to achieve the organization’s mission. There is political in-fighting, with executives striving for personal advancement and power. Ideas can be killed because they come from the "wrong" person. Ideas will be supported because the are advanced by the "right" person. People in their own department spend much of their time protecting their department’s "turf."

•People in other departments spend so much time protecting their "turf" that they don’t have time to do the work they are responsible to do. • They are treated as though they can’t be trusted. • They are treated as though they don’t have good judgment. • They are treated as though they won’t work hard unless pushed. • Their work environment includes large amounts of unhealthy stress. • The tendency of the organization is to grow top-heavy, while the operating units of the organization tend to be too lean. • Promotions are more likely to be made on the basis of politics, rather than actual achievements on the job.

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Information is hoarded or kept secret and used as the basis for power. Top managers are dangerously ill-informed and insulated from what is happening on the front lines or in "the field." Data is used selectively, or distorted to make performance look better than it really is. Internal communications to employees are distorted to reflect what the organization would like to be, rather than what it really is. Mistakes and failures are denied, covered up or ignored. Responsibility for mistakes and failure tends to be denied, and where possible, blame is shifted to others. Decisions are made by larger and larger groups, so no one can be held accountable.

•Decisions are made based on the perceived desires of superiors, rather than concern for mission achievement. • Policies, practices and procedures tend to grow endlessly and to be followed more and more rigidly. • Senior managers become so insulated from the realities of the front line that they may use stereotypical thinking and out-of-date experience in making decisions. • Quantitative measurements are favored over qualitative measurements, so the concentration is on quantities of output, with less and less concern for quality of output. • Both employees and customers are treated more as numbers than people. Personal issues and human needs are ignored or discounted.

Conclusion

Bureaucracy is often accused of robbing the human spirit and robbing organizational participants of their freedom and dignity by eliminating official business love, hatred and all purely personal, irrational and emotional elements. However bureaucratic rules and procedures are likely to persist in all organizations, so it is important to consider both their enabling and coercive features. They not only enable organizational actors to get certain things accomplished, but can also be used by subordinates as strategic weapons against superordinates. Meaning that it can be used as a tool of manipulation and control.

References
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Management 7th edition by Ricky W. Griffin. Organizational Behavior managing people and organizations 7th edition by Gregory Moorhead and Ricky W. Griffin. Organization Theory tension and change by David Jaffee. www.analytech.com/mb021/bureau/htm. www.busting-beaucracy.com/excerpts/weber/htm www.riseofthewest.net/thinkers/weber03.htm www.maxwideman.com/issacons3/iac/tsld005/htm http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_advantages_and_disadvantag www.das.state.ne.us/personnel/nkn/oegresources/weber.htm www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/max_weber www.en.wiki.org/wiki/bureacracy

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