The discourses of Max Weberian’s bureaucracy are central to schools of thought related to merit systems, hierarchical structures of governance, job specialization, and uniform principles. Essentially, bureaucracy is interactively “a large democratic system of government that has trouble making changes in a timely manner” (Mandel, 1992, p.27).
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The ideal form of bureaucracy discussed by Weber is predominantly hierarchical with specific lines that demarcate the extent of authority in a governance system.
In such a system, people normally execute actions from the guideline of some established rules written down. Woodrow (1987) gives an insight that, in pure bureaucratic regime, “bureaucratic officials need expert training, rules are implemented by neutral officials, and career advancement depends on technical qualifications judged by the organization, not individuals” (p.198).
In this light, although Weber viewed conducting administrative tasks in a bureaucratic manner as entailing the most efficient way of organization of systems of governance, he raises concerns that it posed an immense threat to the freedom of individuals.
From my work experience with a bureaucratic system as a teacher, bureaucracy entails a number of aspects. These aspects are hierarchy, formal rules, impersonality, qualification, focus, and function. In the teaching profession, a state has the mandate of monitoring educational power levels in running of schools.
The top most people in charge of overseeing the accomplishment of educational tasks are guided by established rules in the American constitution. They are under the control of the US department of education. Below the head of a state’s education officer, there are a number of power levels. These levels are necessary since, in bureaucratic governance, “members organized by functions and skills keep similar individuals together” (Neil, 1993, p.98).
Additionally, in every level of educational administration, there exist rules that are applicable with impersonality. This, according to Neil (1993), facilitates “equal treatment and uniform policies and procedures” (p.107). A more important experience in my teaching profession is that, during recruitment, I was considered for the job based on qualifications, as opposed to connections and or relationships.
Throughout my working time as a teacher, I was bound to comply with the authority administered by the school head inasmuch as it was consistent with federal educational rules and regulations. Essentially, my tasks as a bureaucrat were to do what the rules and regulations administered by the head teacher required of me. However, this does not mean that every organization is bureaucratic since examples of organizations that are not bureaucratic exist. These include sole proprietorship organization and human rights organizations.
In the contemporary organizations, bureaucracy may also be used positively. A bureaucratic organization emphasizes on organizations’ objectives. This focus is normally geared towards enhancing the profitability of the organization. This is essential for the organization to continue being a net employer and for the net benefit of the owners.
Hall (1963) also holds this line of view by further asserting, “goals of an in focus bureaucracy relate to market share and high profits” (p.37). On a different angle of view, standard operating procedures dominate bureaucratic organizations. They are formalized in the form of manuals and procedures. Consequently, upon following the rules and procedures precisely, bureaucrats save time since no critical decisions are required before starting the next procedure in the line of their duty.
Conclusively, the concept of bureaucracy has its origin from the works of Max Weber, a German political economist, administration, and a sociologist scholar. By deploying Weber’s approach to bureaucracy, the short paper discusses bureaucracy as a concept in organizations’ administration and governance systems besides considering my experience as a teacher.
Amid the pitfall of bureaucracy such as posing hindrances to people from becoming multi-skills due to the immense levels of job specialization advocated for by bureaucracy, the paper maintains that bureaucracy may serve as an incredible way of enhancing staff accountability.
Hall, R. (1963). The concept of bureaucracy: an empirical assessment. The American Journal of Sociology, 69(1), 32-40.
Mandel, E. (1992). Power and Money: A Marxist Theory of Bureaucracy. London: Verso.
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Neil, G. (1993). Bureaucracy: Three Paradigms. Boston, MA: Kluwer.
Woodrow, W. (1987). The Study of Administration. Political science quarterly, 2(2), 197–222.