Max weber¶s Bureaucratic Theory

Bureaucratic Theory was developed by a German Sociologist and political economist Max Weber (1864-1920). According to him, bureaucracy is the most efficient form of organisation. The organisation has a well-defined line of authority. It has clear rules and regulations which are strictly followed.

At roughly the same time, Max Weber was attempting to do for sociology what Taylor had done for industrial operations. Weber postulated that western civilization was shifting from "wertrational" (or value oriented) thinking, affective action (action derived from emotions), and traditional action (action derived from past precedent to "zweckational" (or technocratic) thinking. He believed that civilization was changing to seek technically optimal results at the expense of emotional or humanistic content. Viewing the growth of large-scale organizations of all types during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Weber developed a set of principles for an "ideal" bureaucracy. These principles included: fixed and official jurisdictional areas, a firmly ordered hierarchy of super and subordination, management based on written records, thorough and expert training, official activity taking priority over other activities and that management of a given organization follows stable, knowable rules. The bureaucracy was envisioned as a large machine for attaining its goals in the most efficient manner possible. Weber did not advocate bureaucracy, indeed, his writings show a strong caution for its excesses: "«the more fully realized, the more bureaucracy "depersonalizes" itself, i.e., the more completely it succeeds in achieving the exclusion of love, hatred, and every purely personal, especially irrational and incalculable, feeling from the execution of official tasks" or: "By it the performance of each individual worker is mathematically measured, each man becomes a little cog in the machine and aware of this, his one preoccupation is whether he can become a bigger cog(A subordinate member of an organization who performs necessary but usually minor or routine functions.)" Environment Weber, as an economist and social historian, saw his environment transitioning from older emotion and tradition driven values to technological ones. It is unclear if he saw the tremendous growth in government, military and industrial size and complexity as a result of the efficiencies of bureaucracy, or their growth driving those organizations to bureaucracy.

It is probable that he would have seen the "group dynamics" as "noise" in the system.g. A formal hierarchy is the basis of central planning and centralized decision making. His principles of an ideal bureaucracy still ring true today and many of the evils of today's bureaucracies come from their deviating from those ideal principles. 6. 1. ." then the organization's purpose is to serve the stockholders. Weber noted six major principles. Purposely impersonal The idea is to treat all employees equally and customers equally. has another attribute. Organization by functional specialty Work is to be done by specialists." 5. Unfortunately. or to produce a cash stream. to produce high profits. e. An "up-focused" or "in-focused" mission If the mission is described as "up-focused. and not be influenced by individual differences. If the mission is to serve the organization itself.Successes While Weber was fundamentally an observer rather than a designer. A formal hierarchical structure Each level controls the level below and is controlled by the level above. 3. then the mission is described as "in-focused. It would have been fascinating to see how Weber would have integrated Mayo's results into his theories. and people are organized into units based on the type of work they do or skills they have.. the board. 4. according to Parkinson. Weber was also successful in predicting that bureaucracies would have extreme difficulties dealing with individual cases. Employment based on technical qualifications (There may also be protection from arbitrary dismissal. 2. it is clear that his predictions have come true. and those within it.) The bureaucratic form. Management by rules Controlling by rules allows decisions made at high levels to be executed consistently by all lower levels. or whatever agency empowered it. to gain market share. limiting the bureaucracy's potential for both efficiency and inhumanity.

It is also suitable for organisations where change is very slow. There is a well defined Hierarchy of Authority. There is a high degree of Division of Labour and Specialisation. 3." Weber failed to notice this. 9. 8. Dedication and commitment of the employee is not considered. 3. It follows the principle of Rationality. Northcote Parkinson found it so common that he made it the basis of his humorous "Parkinson's law. Interpersonal relations are based on positions and not on personalities. 8. 5. No importance is given to informal groups. Criticism of Bureaucratic Organisation Bureaucratic organisation is a very rigid type of organisation. It does not give importance to human relations. There are well defined Methods for all types of work. There rules cover all the duties and rights of th employees. 2. There is difficulty in coordination and communication. 2. The rules and regulations are rigid and inflexible. But it is not suitable for business organisations because business organisations believe in quick decision making and flexibility in procedures. 4. 7. Predisposition to grow in staff "above the line. 7. Only Bureaucratic or legal power is given importance.7. Selection and Promotion is based on Technical qualifications. Too much emphasis on rules and regulations. 6. Nowadays. 5. It is suitable for government organisations. 6. almost without regard to what the line organization is doing. It is appropriate for static organisations. There are Formal and Impersonal relations among the member of the organisation." Parkinson demonstrated that the management and professional staff tends to grow at predictable rates. Bureaucratic model may be suitable for government organisations. effort and money. This results in lot of wastage of time. There is limited scope for Human Resource (HR) . There are well defined Rules and Regulations. Bureaucratic organisation is criticised because of the following reasons :1. 4. These rules must be strictly followed. Bureaucracy involves a lot of paper work. There will be unnecessary delay in decision-making due to formalities and rules. informal groups play an important role in all business organisations. Objectively and Consistency. Features of Bureaucratic Organisation The characteristics or features of Bureaucratic Organisation are as follows :1. but C. Too much importance is given to the technical qualifications of the employees for promotion and transfers.