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Kawanis Bowers

Kameron Marshbanks
Tristan Nelson
Raebekkah Pratt-Clarke
Jake Prizant

RST 410
Lara Browning
25 September 2017
Bureaucratic Organizational Management

Over the course of the 21st century, many managements styles and theories were
introduced. The purpose of these styles was to give managers a blueprint of one of the ways they
could they could run their organization. One theory in particular is the bureaucratic form of
organization. This theory was created by Max Weber who was a German sociologist. In his
theory, Weber believed that a bureaucracy was the most efficient way to run an organization.
Webers form of bureaucracy included five main characteristics. These characteristics are a
division of labor, a centralized authority, official rules and records, and an impersonal
relationship with the staff. While there are definitely benefits of this management style, there are
also drawbacks.
In general, bureaucracy is a management style where large-scale tasks are accomplished
through the division of work of a group of people. The first characteristic of a bureaucracy is a
clear division of labor. With this idea, employees are given tasks based on their skill level and
competencies which helps teach them exactly what their responsibilities are. Doing work outside
an instructed area of expertise is unpermitted in a bureaucracy because it creates chaos and
disrupts the system of structure (Mulder, 2017). The division of labor makes it easy to hold
employees accountable for the work that they were assigned since each department is only
responsible for a specific category of material (iEduNote, n.d.).
The second characteristic Weber created was the strict chain of command. With the chain
of command comes a hierarchical organization which serves as the basis for communication
(Chand, n.d.). Communication with those above or below the senior manager must go through all
positions necessary in order to reach the desired individual. Hierarchy is a system where
individuals are ranked based on power and responsibility. The top position in a hierarchy has the
most power and is the most important (Mulder, 2017). The top position has the authority to
supervise all employees below his or her level while the lowest position is subject to supervision
from all employees above his or her level. A chain of command leaves no room for
communication or negotiation but instead it enforces employees to adhere to the preconstructed
Third, an application of official rules must be implemented. A detailed list of rules must
be created for the organization that outline the proper procedures, policies, and regulations that
are required for every employee (iEduNote, n.d.). Rules should be uniform so all employees are
held responsible for the same thing (Mulder, 2017). As Chand states, rules provide stability,
continuity, and predictability (n.d.). When a new rule is created, it must be communicated
clearly and effectively to all employees so everyone stays on the same page. One potential
problem with an extensive list of rules is that employees might begin to build up some frustration
with the tediousness of trying to follow so many orders that it might restrict creativity or
ingenuity. The requirement for official rules in a bureaucracy segues into Webers fourth
requirement which is that official records must also be kept. If a situation occurs where rules
were broken or misunderstood, recording the instance will help prevent a similar situation from
occurring in the future. Having a record of organizational history may prove useful when a
business matter similar to one in the past arises since time and effort can be saved by looking at
the results of the prior instance.
Webers fifth requirements for a bureaucracy are that relationships must stay impersonal.
Decisions to employ or promote one must be unbiased (Chand, n.d.). Showing favoritism is one
way to isolate employees and decrease overall morale if they feel that their contributions arent
being valued. Promotions are expected and necessary it is just important to base them on their
quality professional work and not personal factors or private relationships.
Weber is very detailed with all five characteristics that describe a bureaucracy. This form
of management like many others, has its advantages and disadvantages. Overall, its easier to
manage and supervise employees because of the clear outline of expectations (Mulder, 2017).
Due to the quantity of rules and regulations, a consistent work quality can be expected of the
employees (Chand, n.d.). Organizational hierarchy also makes having a clear division of labor
possible (Chand, n.d.). Despite these benefits to bureaucracy and the positive aspects it
highlights in the theory, there are still drawbacks. Due to the division of labor, employees are
only able to associate with coworkers in similar lines of work which could prevent
communication between departments where collaboration might be more effective than
individual productivity (Mulder, 2017). In addition, the authoritative rules work to keep the
employees compliant but take their voice away (Mulder, 2017). Finally, in a bureaucracy,
promotions tend to focus on technical knowledge, skills, and abilities, and not individual
dedication or commitment to the organization (iEduNote, n.d.). The excessive rules as well as the
lack of personal connection may result in employees losing loyalty for the company or being
unmotivated to produce high quality work since they may not feel valued as an individual.
While management in recreation, sport, and tourism (RST) related jobs do not necessarily
follow Max Webers bureaucratic system, there are certain aspects of a bureaucracy that are
parallel to management practices in the field. While simultaneously utilizing the theory, there are
aspects of it that completely contradict traditional RST management practices. A bureaucracy
has a structured system where doing work outside the realm of your expertise is frowned upon.
However, many positions in RST require employees to work in many different departments that
may be not be within their initial expertise. As workers work in those different departments, they
develop new skills and abilities through experiences that can eventually lead to more areas of
The strict chain of command in the bureaucracy is much different than in RST-related job
areas. While there is certainly a form of hierarchy in almost all RST management, the form of
hierarchy is split up into different departments as opposed to one hierarchy. RST organizations
are very broad and often have many separate departments, where a bureaucratic form of
hierarchy would simply not work. For example, the University of Illinois Campus Recreation has
various departments: Aquatics, Facility Management, Intramurals, etc. There cannot be one
single chain of command for all employees as it simply would be effective management. While
all those departments are a part of Campus Recreation, each require different skillsets and
expertise in order to function efficiently.
Webers bureaucratic form of organization and RST management follow similar
standards when it comes to employee policies and rules. In RST organizations, there is always
some form of employee handbook that stresses company policies and rules that every employee
must adhere to. Webers bureaucracy appears to constitute of stricter laws that limit the
employee. The purpose of the employee handbook in the realm of RST, is to create a sense of
equality between workers. Additionally, it makes the expectations of workplace behavior clear
across. Finally, when necessary, it will also include a system to address the whatever issues arise.
Like the bureaucracy, incidents of not following any of the rules are documented. The purpose is
to hold the employee accountable and to keep tabs to ensure it is not a growing issue with the
employee. Both management practices ensure that hiring and promotions are based of
qualifications and quality work, as opposed to solely personal connection. The difference in RST
is that many interpersonal relationships develop in the field. Networking is a huge necessity in
RST. Networking helps develop personal connections, which can benefit an employee by making
them more competitive for positions. That said, the prospective employee will still have to meet
the job qualifications and display quality work in order to ultimately succeed at the job.
There are several parallels between RST management practices and Webers bureaucratic
form of organization. However, the differences outweigh the limited similarities. Overall, the
biggest difference deals with the firm structure that the bureaucracy puts on its employees. In
RST, workers need the flexibility and the opportunity to be creative. Thinking outside the box
and being innovative is how employees will stand out in the field to progress in their career. RST
is all about the connections you can make with various organizations and employers. RST-
related positions garner interest from people all around the world, so the competition is high. By
following the bureaucratic principles, a person pursuing a career in RST would have a difficult
time with their overall development and continuous growth.
Webers bureaucratic form of organization illustrates ideal organizational structure,
according to Edington. (2015). As explained earlier, his five main successful characteristics that
constitute a bureaucratic style are what he believes as the most efficient way to run any
organization. From his theory, people can learn successful ways to work on a team. Not only can
they utilize his ideals in social settings, but they can also use his theory to work efficiently in a
department or structure an organization as a whole.
An article written by Michael Lutzker in the American Archivist dives deeper into what
Webers theory looks like among modern large-scale organizations. The article aims to discover
how archivists utilize Webers theory to understand all modern politico-economic systems:
capitalist, socialist, and communist (Lutzker, 1982). Not only can Webers five theories be seen
in the structure of all of these political partys organizations, but democracy is something that
Weber was particularly interested in. It is important to understand Webers theory in order to
understand the functionality and structure of our democratic nation as it is definitely prevalent in
our society today. Our government has division of work, centralized authority through the
election of a president, rules in the form of laws, rational personnel policies in the form of fair
elections for all positions, and records in the form of governmental archives and documents.
Understanding the structure of our nation is probably the most important thing to learn from this
theory. Weber did an unbeatable job explaining the key characteristics in leading a nation, group
of people, or team. According to the article from the American Archivist, Robert Presthus has
called him perhaps the greatest social scientist of this [the 20th] century (Lutzker, 1982).
More relatable for a student, Webers theory outlines beneficial ways to work on group
projects and structure on-campus organizations. For example, in order to successfully complete a
group project, it is critical to divide the work amongst the team to save time and accomplish the
task together. It is also important to elect a leader of the group to delegate and manage
conversations and deadlines. The group should establish rules throughout the duration of the
project to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to expectations. Rational
personnel policies should exist in order to ensure fair treatment and kindness among the group
members. Lastly, group projects are most successful when teams have written record of all work,
ideas, and discussion points at meetings. Overall, people can use this theory to complete group
tasks efficiently and learn how to better understand our bureaucratic nation.
Webers theory was interested in the nature of power and authority. Those interests led
Weber to study operations of large-scale modern enterprises in the administrative, political, and
economic areas. Weber describes bureaucratic forms of organization as a theory that dominates
offices today. He states that offices are ranked in a hierarchical format and the operations are
described by impersonal rules. He also believes that this is the only way for a large-scale
organization to be effective in planning.
Weber says that there are also flaws when it comes to this form of organization because it
doesnt calculate for individual cases or issues that only affect one person because it is made to
be effective on a large-scale basis. Just like with any theory, there will always be something that
it cant account for. For Weber, individual cases are subject to being ignored. Weber also argues
that bureaucratization of modern times has led to the depersonalization of the theory as the
theory has become less real and or is being detached from its original meaning. He says that each
individual performance of workers in a modern organization is calculated as if they are just a
piece of the big machine.
Works Cited

Chand, S. (n.d.). Webers bureaucracy: Definition, features, benefits,

disadvantages and problems. Retrieved September 21, 2017, from

Edginton, C. R., Hudson, S. D., Lankford, S., & Larsen, D. (2015). Managing Recreation, Parks,
and Leisure Services: an Introduction. Urbana, IL: Sagamore Publishing.

iEduNote. (n.d.). Bureaucratic management theory by Max Weber. Retrieved

September 21, 2017, from

Lutzker, M. (1982). Max Weber and the Analysis of Modern Bureaucratic Organization: Notes
Toward a Theory of Appraisal. [Article]
same-site, American Archivist.

Mulder, P. (2017, April 18). Bureaucratic theory by Max Weber. Retrieved

September 21, 2017, from