Bureaucracy is defined as a formal system of organization characterized by levels of hierarchy, which are explicitly set to ensure that effectiveness is achieved in an organization. The bureaucratic system was developed by Max Weber and endeavors to establish hierarchies in organizations, as well as developing solid authority lines and control systems. Bureaucracies are associated with inflexibility, rigidity, strict control, and unproductiveness. However, an appropriate application of bureaucratic principles can create a sound and effective organizational structure. This essay focuses on how bureaucratic principles can be used to achieve a useful organizational hierarchy.
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The first bureaucratic principle is a hierarchy of authority. When applied in an appropriate manner, the hierarchy of power can enable an organization to create a useful organizational hierarchy. The hierarchy of authority ensures that authority flows from top management to junior employees while retaining a higher amount of it at the top. The hierarchy of authority can be used to increase accountability in an organization. A well-defined hierarchy ensures that all activities and projects in an organization are executed with accountability. It also ensures that employees get instructions from one person at a time. This helps them to perform their duties effectively. Finally, the hierarchy of authority in organizations ensures that there are active communication paths among different departments. Managers can improve communication in their departments because of a clear hierarchy of authority.
The second bureaucratic principle that can be used to develop effective organizational hierarchy is the division of labor. The division of labor involves allocating tasks to different workers to increase efficiency. It is important in an organization because it enables employees to specialize. It makes it possible for them to perform tasks they are competent in. Specialization ensures that different tasks are performed effectively and in good time because employees develop competency when they perform a task repeatedly. The division of labor, therefore, helps an organization to develop an effective organizational hierarchy.
The third bureaucratic principle is a framework of rules. Rules are important in an organization because they specify acceptable behavior. A framework of rules refers to behavioral specifications that are enforced by an organization to ensure that employees do what they should do. This principle eliminates indiscipline and unnecessary conflicts between employees and management. It enables employees to understand organizational rules they should adhere to and consequences associated with failure to follow them. As a result, they follow the rules strictly to avoid disciplinary actions being taken against them. This leads to effective organizational hierarchy in an organization.
The fourth bureaucratic principle that is important in establishing an effective organizational hierarchy is record keeping. Records are important in organizations because they form the basis for future reference. In case of a crisis in an organization, it is possible to refer to written records to come up with appropriate solutions. Records are also important because they ensure that organizational resources are used in the right way. Organizations that fail to keep records incur huge losses due to inconsistencies in their operations. Record keeping is, therefore, important for the establishment of an effective organizational hierarchy (Management Principles: Principle of Bureaucracy, 2012).
The fifth bureaucratic principle that helps an organization to achieve effective organizational hierarchy is technical competence. It advocates for the recruitment of employees based on their technical competence. This ensures that an organization recruits people who are qualified for their jobs. Technical competence is important to an organization since employees can perform tasks assigned to them competently and as required. As a result, technical competence plays an important role in the establishment of an effective organizational hierarchy.
The sixth bureaucratic principle is impersonal relationships among employees. Employees play an important role in an organization; hence they determine the level of success attained. For success to be achieved, there must be cooperation among all employees. This requires them to build impersonal relations amongst themselves. Impersonal relations ensure that they interact well to achieve organizational goals (Jones, 2010).
Problem of Bureaucracy
Although the bureaucratic form of management has its benefits, organizations that exercise this management style also experience some challenges. One of the challenges associated with bureaucracy is rigidity. A bureaucracy is characterized by rules and regulations that are strictly followed by employees. This causes inflexibility because the rules cannot be altered to suit certain situations, even when there is a need for alteration. The problem of rigidity is that it denies employees an opportunity to apply their creativity. It is important to note that employees can give creative suggestions that benefit organizations. However, this is not possible in a bureaucratic system since they are not allowed to express their views. They are expected to follow the set rules and regulations strictly.
Although bureaucratic systems follow strict rules and regulations, organizations should look for ways of ensuring that the freedom of employees to make a positive contribution is not taken away. For instance, managers can establish provisions that allow employees to give their contribution to important matters. This would enable management to enforce set rules and regulations without necessarily alienating employees.
Jones, G. (2010). Organizational theory, design, and change. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Management Principles: Principle of Bureaucracy. (2012). Web.