Bureaucracy is a model of structural organization which is designed to execute tasks efficiently. Many of today’s large organizations use this model as their structural design. Max weber identified six key characteristics of the ideal bureaucratic organization: Division of labor, authority hierarchy, formal rules and regulations, formal selection, impersonality, and career orientation.
In the bureaucratic system, individuals have highly specialized tasks as oppose to individuals working in small businesses who are in charge of many different things at once. This characteristic of bureaucracy is called specialization or division of labor. The second element is the authority hierarchy which arranges individuals in a vertical ranking of offices. In this pyramid form of command, personnel are supervised by “higher ups” while supervising personnel in lower chains.
Another element of bureaucracy is its formal rules and regulations. Bureaucracy brings individuals of different cultures and backgrounds together and put them under the same formal umbrella. Formal selection is another element of bureaucracy that talks about the required technical ability of each position. Applicants must meet the requirement and once they get in they will be monitored for evaluation purposes.
Impersonality is the 5th element of bureaucracy which puts policies ahead of personalities so that all individuals be treated the same way. The last identified element is the career orientation which assigns managers as career professionals as oppose to units owners.
Max Weber identified bureaucracy as a rational, productive, and highly efficient way to operate in the industrial world. However he detected some drawbacks. Weber was aware that bureaucracy is able to dehumanize people and lead the society to alienation. According to him formal organizations can reduce the human being to “a small cog in a ceaselessly moving mechanism”. Even though formal organizations intention is to serve humanity, Weber feared that humanity may well end up serving formal organizations!
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