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For other uses, see Bureaucracy (disambiguation). A bureaucracy is an organization of non-elected officials of a government or organization who implement the rules, laws, and functions of their institution.


1 Development o 1.1 Ancient world o 1.2 Modern world 1.2.1 Weberian bureaucracy 2 The economics of bureaucracy o 2.1 Budget maximizing bureaucracy o 2.2 Bureau-shaping bureaucracy o 2.3 Rent-seeking bureaucracy 3 See also 4 References 5 Further reading

[edit] Development

Bureaucracies date back to ancient societies across the globe.

[edit] Ancient world

Further information: Mesopotamia, Ancient Rome, Ancient China, and Ancient Egypt This section is empty. You can help by adding to it.

[edit] Modern world

[edit] Weberian bureaucracy An editor has expressed a concern that this section lends undue weight to certain ideas, incidents, controversies or matters relative to the article subject as a whole. Please help to create a more balanced presentation. Discuss and resolve this issue before removing this message. (October 2011) Weberian bureaucracy has its origin in the works by Max Weber (1864-1920), a notable German sociologist, political economist, and administrative scholar who contributed to the study of bureaucracy and administrative discourses and literatures during the mid 1800s and early 1900s. Max Weber belongs to the Scientific School of Thought, who discussed such topics as specialization of job-scope, merit system, uniform principles, structure and hierarchy. His contemporaries include Frederick Taylor (1856-1915), Henri Fayol (18411925), Elton Mayo (1880-1949), and later scholars, such as, Herbert Simon (1916-2001), Dwight Waldo (1913-2000), and others.[1] Bureaucratic administration means fundamentally domination through knowledge Max Weber[2] Weber described many ideal types of public administration and government in his magnum opus Economy and Society (1922). His critical study of the bureaucratisation of society became one of the most enduring parts of his work.[2][3] It was Weber who began the studies of bureaucracy and whose works led to the popularization of this term.[4] Many aspects of modern public administration go back to him, and a classic, hierarchically organized civil service of the Continental type is called "Weberian civil service".[5] As the most efficient and rational way of organizing, bureaucratization for Weber was the key part of the rational-legal authority, and furthermore, he saw it as the key process in the ongoing rationalization of the Western society.[2][3] Weber listed several precondititions for the emergence of bureaucracy.[6] The growth in space and population being administered, the growth in complexity of the administrative tasks being carried out, and the existence of a monetary economy requires a more efficient administrative system.[6] Development of communication and transportation technologies makes more efficient administration possible but also in popular demand, and democratization and rationalization of culture resulted in demands that the new system treats everybody equally.[6]

Weber's ideal bureaucracy is characterized by hierarchical organization, delineated lines of authority in a fixed area of activity, action taken on the basis of and recorded in written rules, bureaucratic officials need expert training, rules are implemented by neutral officials, career advancement depends on technical qualifications judged by organization, not individuals.[2][6] The decisive reason for the advance of bureaucratic organization has always been its purely technical superiority over any other form of organization Max Weber[5] While recognizing bureaucracy as the most efficient form of organization, and even indispensable for the modern state, Weber also saw it as a threat to individual freedoms, and the ongoing bureaucratization as leading to a "polar night of icy darkness", in which increasing rationalization of human life traps individuals in the aforementioned "iron cage" of bureaucratic, rule-based, rational control.[2][7] In order to counteract bureaucrats, the system needs entrepreneurs and politicians.[2]

At the turn of the century a sociologist named Max Weber began to study the new forms of organization being developed to manage large numbers of people in complex activities. His study concluded that each of these large scale organizations were similar in specific ways and had many of the same features, and concluded that each was a bureaucracy. A bureaucracy is defined as an organization of Read more.... non-elected officials of an organization who implement the rules, laws and functions of the institution. Out of these studies came his seven principles of bureaucracy. The six principles were as follows: (1) specification of jobs with detailed rights, obligations, responsibilities and scope of authority, (2) system of supervision and subordination, (3) unity of command, (4) extensive use of written documents, (5) training in job requirements and skills, (6) application of consistent and complete rules, and (7) assign work and hire personnel based on experience.Weber's bureaucracy is based on logic and rationality which are supported by trained and qualified specialists. The element of a bureaucracy offers a stable and hierarchical model for organization. There are both advantages and disadvantages or Weber's elements of bureaucracy. Weber stated that bureaucracies were well organized machines that could accomplish any goal. However he also saw the disadvantages of bureaucracies. One of these disadvantages being that oftentimes power shifted to only those individuals at the top which could result in oligarchy. Another concept that is found largely in Max Weber's theories of bureaucracy is rationalization. This is a process into which a person enters, applying practical knowledge to achieve an end. Weber's thoughts on bureaucracy have influenced modern thinking and many still hold true today. The main ides of his seven principles are still true to many bureaucracies that exist

today which makes Weber a truly innovative thinker and someone who continues to influence society and business today.

The last century saw the perfection of the bureaucracy -- a form of organization that has been enormously successful and is the result of thousands of years of trial and error evolution. Max Weber outlined the key characteristics of a bureaucracy: 1. specification of jobs with detailed rights, obligations, responsibilities, scope of authority 2. system of supervision and subordination 3. unity of command 4. extensive use of written documents 5. training in job requirements and skills 6. application of consistent and complete rules (company manual) 7. assign work and hire personnel based on competence and experience Today, many of these principles seem obvious and commonplace. However, they are all inventions --- organizations did not always have these features. Today we also think of bureaucracies as inefficient, slow and generally bad. In Weber's time, they were seen as marvelously efficient machines that reliably accomplished their goals. And in fact, bureaucracies did become enormously successful, easily outcompeting other organization forms such as family businesses and adhocracies. They also did much to introduce concepts of fairness and equality of opportunity into society, having a profound effect on the social structure of nations. However, bureaucracies are better for some tasks than others. In particular, bureaucracies are not well-suited to industries in which technology changes rapidly or is not yet wellunderstood. Bureaucracies excel at businesses involving routine tasks that can be wellspecified in writing and don't change quickly.

Weber's Rational Bureaucracy

(this discussion based on the discussion in "The Organizational Age" by Rodney Stark in Sociology, 3rd Edition)

At the turn of the century a sociologist named Max Weber began to study the new forms of organization being developed for managing large numbers of people in far-flung and complex activities. Since he was German, he was very familiar with Moltke's development of the General Staff (see course packet material on 19th Century Bureaucracies). Furthermore, Germany had been an early leader in developing a civil service. At the same time, German industry was beginning to adopt the organizational methods developed in the United States. Surveying this scene, Weber attempted to isolate the elements common to all of these new organizations. Weber concluded that all these new large-scale organizations were similar. Each was a bureaucracy. Today many of us regard bureaucracy as a dirty word, suggesting red tape, inefficiency, and officiousness As we shall see, bureaucracies can develop these features, especially if authority is highly centralized. Weber's purpose, however, was to define the essential features of new organizations and to indicate why these organizations worked so much better than traditional ones. Let us examine the features that Weber found in bureaucracies. Above all, Weber emphasized that bureaucratic organizations were an attempt to subdue human affairs to the rule of reason-to make it possible to conduct the business of the organization "according to calculable rules." For people who developed modern organizations, the purpose was to find rational solutions to the new problems of size Weber saw bureaucracy as the rational product of social engineering, just as the machines of the Industrial Revolution were the rational products of mechanical engineering. He wrote:
"The decisive reason for the advance of bureaucratic organization has always been its purely technical superiority over any former organization. The fully developed bureaucratic mechanism compares with other organizations exactly as does the machine with non-mechanical modes of production." [Weber, 1946].

For Weber the term bureaucracy was inseparable from the term rationality. And we may speak of his concept as a "rational bureaucracy" But what were the features developed to make bureaucracies rational? We have already met them: (1) functional specialization (2) clear lines of hierarchical authority, (3) expert training of managers, and (4) decision making based on rules and tactics developed to guarantee consistent and effective pursuit of organizational goals. Weber noted additional features of rational bureaucracies that are simple extensions of the four just outlined, To ensure expert management, appointment and promotion are based on merit rather than favoritism, and those appointed treat their positions as full-time, primary careers. To ensure order in decision making, business is conducted primarily through written rules records, and communications. Weber's idea of functional specialization applies both to persons within an organization and to relations between larger units or divisions of the organization. We have already seen how this applied to Swift & Co. Within a Swift packing plant, work was broken down into

many special tasks, and employees were assigned to one or a few such tasks, including the tasks involved in coordinating the work of others. (Such coordination is called administration or management.) Furthermore, Swift was separated into a number of divisions, each specializing in one of the tasks in the elaborate process of bringing meat from the ranch to the consumer. Weber argued that such specialization is essential to a rational bureaucracy and that the specific boundaries separating one functional division from another must be fixed by explicit rules, regulations, and procedures. For Weber it was self-evident that coordinating the divisions of large organizations requires clear lines of authority organized in a hierarchy. That means there are clear "levels of graded authority." All employees in the organization must know who their boss is, and each person should always respect the chain of command; that is, people should give orders only to their own subordinates and receive orders only through their own immediate superior In this way, the people at the top can be sure that directives arrive where they are meant to go and know where responsibilities lie. Furthermore, hierarchical authority is required in bureaucracies so that highly trained experts can he properly used as managers. It does little good to train someone to operate a stockyard, for example, and then have that manager receive orders from someone whose training is in advertising. Rational bureaucracies can be operated, Weber argued, only by deploying managers at all levels who have been selected and trained for their specific jobs. Persons ticketed for top positions in bureaucracies are often rotated through many divisions of an organization to gain firsthand experience of the many problems that their future subordinates must face. [Recall how Moltke rotated his General Staff officers through various regiments.] Finally, Weber stressed that rational bureaucracies must be managed in accordance with carefully developed rules and principles that can be learned and applied and that transactions and decisions must be recorded so that rules can he reviewed. Only with such rules and principles can the activities of hundreds of managers at different levels in the organization be predicted and coordinated. If we cannot predict what others will do, then we cannot count on them. Moltke had to be sure that staff officers faced with an unexpected crisis would solve it as he would. To ensure that, officers had to be trained in Moltke's tactical principles and rules. Similarly Gustavus Swift had to know that his stockyards would not buy meat faster than his packing plants could process it or that more meat would not be shipped than his eastern refrigerators could accommodate, of course, it is impossible to spell out detailed rules to fit all contingencies. Therefore, decision makers must be highly trained and must report their decisions promptly and accurately to their superiors. For a long time, Weber's rational bureaucracy model dominated social science thinking about large, modern organizations. If organizations did not operate quite as Weber had said a bureaucracy should, then the solution was to bring them in line with the ideal bureaucratic procedures. However by World War II, sharp criticism of Weber's ideas began to surface. social scientists began to argue that Weber had ignored much of what really

went on in organizations-the conflicts, the cliques, and the sidestepping of rules and the chain of command. The problem, according to Philip Selznick 1948,1957), lay in the fact that bureaucracies were not and could not be like machines because they consisted of human beings. In the final analysis, people will simply not imitate machines.

What is it?
So what exactly is a bureaucracy? As the father of the modern day bureaucracy, Max Weber, has made a few key characteristics of a bureaucracy:[1]

1. specification of jobs with detailed rights, obligations, responsibilities, scope of authority 2. system of supervision and subordination 3. unity of command 4. extensive use of written documents 5. training in job requirements and skills 6. application of consistent and complete rules (company manual) 7. assign work and hire personnel based on competence and experience

In all, this creates a hierarchical system where members must follow a set protocol and are hired based on their skills. This is what a bureaucracy is.Keep in mind that the bureaucracy is not limited to the Federal bureaucracy we are going to talk about in this chapter. Private businesses and schools often consist of a bureaucracy as

well. Also, the Federal bureaucracy is not limited to the Executive Branch, but rather each branch of the government has its own bureaucracy (thought the one in the Executive Branch is largest by far).

Bureaucratic Management
Bureaucratic management may be described as "a formal system of organisation based on clearly defined hierarchical levels and roles in order to maintain efficiency and effectiveness." Max Weber embellished the scientific management theory with his bureaucratic management theory which is mainly focused on dividing organizations into hierarchies, establishing strong lines of authority and control. Weber suggested organizations develop comprehensive and detailed standard operating procedures for all routinized tasks. Max Weber was a historian that wrote about the emergence of bureaucracy (or bureaucratic management) from more traditional organizational forms (like feudalism) and it's rising pre-eminance in modern society. Scott defines bureaucracy it as "the existence of a specialized administrative staff". According to Weber, bureaucracy is a particular type of administrative structure developed through rational-legal authority. Bureaucratic structures evolved from traditional structures with the following changes: 1. Jurisdictional areas are clearly specified, activities are distributed as official duties (unlike traditional form where duties delegated by leader and changed at any time). 2. Organization follows hierarchial principle -- subordinates follow orders or superiors, but have right of appeal (in contrast to more diffuse structure in traditional authority). 3. Intential, abstract rules govern decisions and actions. Rules are stable, exhaustive, and can be learned. Decisions are recorded in permanent files (in traditional forms few explicit rules or written records). 4. Means of production or administration belong to office. Personal property separated from office property. 5. Officials are selected on basis of technical qualifications, appointed not elected, and compensated by salary.

6. Employement by the organization is a career. The official is a full-time employee and looks forward to a life-long career. After a trial period they get tenure of position and are protected from arbitrary dismissal. Max Weber said that bureaucracy resolves some of the shortcomings of the traditional system. Described above was his ideal-type construct, a simplified model (not a preferred model) that focuses on the most important features. Weber's view of bureaucracy (or bureaucratic management) was a system of power where leaders exercise control over others -- a system based on discipline. Weber stressed that the rational-legal form was the most stable of systems for both superiors and subordinates -- it's more reliable and clear, yet allows the subordinate more independence and discretion. Subordinates ideally can challenge the decisions of their leaders by referring to the stated rules -- charisma becomes less important. As a result, bureaucratic systems can handle more complex operations than traditional systems. (all above Scott p. 41-42).

The Ideal Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy is the division of labour applied to administration. 'Bureau', is a French word meaning desk, or by extension, an office; thus, 'Bureaucracy' is rule through a desk or office, that is, a form of organization built on the preparation and dispatch of written documents. In contrast to the commonly held view of bureaucracies, they do not 'rule' in their own right but are the means by which a monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, or other form of authority, rules. Observing the changes that were taking place during the industrial revolution, Max Weber saw Capitalism as 'rational' way to organize activities: rational in the sense that all decisions could based on the calculation of their likely return to the enterprise. Weber's Ideal bureaucracy was therefore devoted to the principle of efficiency: maximizing output whilst minimizing inputs. By studying the organizational innovations in Germany at the turn of the 20th century, Max Weber identified the core elements of this new form of organization. For Weber, the ideal bureaucracy was characterized by impersonality, efficiency and rationality. The key feature of the organization was that the authority of officials was subject to published rules and codes of practice; all rules, decisions and actions were recorded in writing. The structure of the organization is a continuous hierarchy where each level is subject to control by the level above it. Each position in the hierarchy exists in its own right and job holders have no rights to a particular position. Responsibilities within each level are clearly delineated and each level has its own sphere of competence. An appointment to an office, and the levels of authority that go with it, are based solely on the grounds of technical competence. Max Weber believed that, due to their efficiency and stability, bureaucracies would become the most prevalent form of organization in society. However, he was also concerned that bureaucracies shared so many common structures it could mean that

all organizations would become very much alike, which in turn could lead to the development of a new class of worker, the professional bureaucrat.

A Theory of Bureaucratic Dysfunction Michel Crozier (1964)

In 1964 the French Sociologist, Michel Crozier set out to re-examine Weber's concept of the efficient ideal bureaucracy in the light of the way that bureaucratic organizations had actually developed and constructed a theory of bureaucratic dysfunction based on an analysis of case studies. The core of his theory stems from the observation that in situations where almost every outcome has been decided in advance, the only way for people to gain control over their lives is to exploit any remaining 'zones of uncertainty'. He argues that organizational relations become little more than strategic games that attempt to exploit such zones, either for their own ends, or to prevent others from gaining an advantage. The result is that the organization becomes locked into a series of inward looking power struggles - so called 'vicious circles' - that prevent it learning from its errors. Thus, in order to be rational and egalitarian, bureaucracies attempt to come up with a set of impersonal rules to cover every event. The result is that because decisions are predetermined, hierarchical relationships become less important and the senior levels loose the power to govern. Secondly, in order to maintain the impersonal nature of decision making, decisions must be made by people who cannot be influenced by those who are affected. The effect of this is that problems are only resolved by people who have no direct knowledge of them. Thirdly, the elimination of opportunities for bargaining and negotiation creates an organization consisting of a series of isolated strata. The result is peer group pressure to conform to the norms of the strata regardless of individual beliefs or the wider goals of the organization. Finally, individuals or groups that gain control the zones of uncertainty weild disproportionate power in an otherwise regulated and egalitarian organization. This leads to the creation of parallel power structures, which in turn results in decisions being made based on factors unrelated to those of the organization as a whole.

Characteristics of Bureaucracy
According to Max Weber MODERN officialdom functions in the following specific manner: I. There is the principle of fixed and official jurisdictional areas, which are generally ordered by rules, that is, by laws or administrative regulations. 1. The regular activities required for the purposes of the bureaucratically governed structure are distributed in a fixed way as official duties.

2. The authority to give the commands required for the discharge of these duties is distributed in a stable way and is strictly delimited by rules concerning the coercive means, physical, sacerdotal, or otherwise, which may be placed at the disposal of officials. 3. Methodical provision is made for the regular and continuous fulfilment of these duties and for the execution of the corresponding rights; only persons who have the generally regulated qualifications to serve are employed. In public and lawful government these three elements constitute 'bureaucratic authority.' In private economic domination, they constitute bureaucratic 'management.' Bureaucracy, thus understood, is fully developed in political and ecclesiastical communities only in the modern state, and, in the private economy, only in the most advanced institutions of capitalism. Permanent and public office authority, with fixed jurisdiction, is not the historical rule but rather the exception. This is so even in large political structures such as those of the ancient Orient, the Germanic and Mongolian empires of conquest, or of many feudal structures of state. In all these cases, the ruler executes the most important measures through personal trustees, table-companions, or court-servants. Their commissions and authority are not precisely delimited and are temporarily called into being for each case. II. The principles of office hierarchy and of levels of graded authority mean a firmly ordered system of super- and subordination in which there is a supervision of the lower offices by the higher ones. Such a system offers the governed the possibility of appealing the decision of a lower office to its higher authority, in a definitely regulated manner. With the full development of the bureaucratic type, the office hierarchy is monocratically organized. The principle of hierarchical office authority is found in all bureaucratic structures: in state and ecclesiastical structures as well as in large party organizations and private enterprises. It does not matter for the character of bureaucracy whether its authority is called 'private' or 'public.' When the principle of jurisdictional 'competency' is fully carried through, hierarchical subordination--at least in public office--does not mean that the 'higher' authority is simply authorized to take over the business of the 'lower.' Indeed, the opposite is the rule. Once established and having fulfilled its task, an office tends to continue in existence and be held by another incumbent. III. The management of the modern office is based upon written documents ('the files'), which are preserved in their original or draught form. There is, therefore, a staff of subaltern officials and scribes of all sorts. The body of officials actively engaged in a 'public' office, along with the respective apparatus of material implements and the files, make up a 'bureau.' In private enterprise, 'the bureau' is often called 'the office.' In principle, the modern organization of the civil service separates the bureau from the private domicile of the official, and, in general, bureaucracy segregates official activity as something distinct from the sphere of private life. Public monies and equipment are divorced from the private property of the official. This condition is everywhere the product of a long development. Nowadays, it is found in public as well as in private enterprises; in the latter, the principle extends even to the leading entrepreneur. In principle, the executive office is separated from the household,

business from private correspondence, and business assets from private fortunes. The more consistently the modern type of business management has been carried through the more are these separations the case. The beginnings of this process are to be found as early as the Middle Ages. It is the peculiarity of the modern entrepreneur that he conducts himself as the 'first official' of his enterprise, in the very same way in which the ruler of a specifically modern bureaucratic state spoke of himself as 'the first servant' of the state. The idea that the bureau activities of the state are intrinsically different in character from the management of private economic offices is a continental European notion and, by way of contrast, is totally foreign to the American way. IV. Office management, at least all specialized office management-- and such management is distinctly modern--usually presupposes thorough and expert training. This increasingly holds for the modern executive and employee of private enterprises, in the same manner as it holds for the state official. V. When the office is fully developed, official activity demands the full working capacity of the official, irrespective of the fact that his obligatory time in the bureau may be firmly delimited. In the normal case, this is only the product of a long development, in the public as well as in the private office. Formerly, in all cases, the normal state of affairs was reversed: official business was discharged as a secondary activity. VI. The management of the office follows general rules, which are more or less stable, more or less exhaustive, and which can be learned. Knowledge of these rules represents a special technical learning which the officials possess. It involves jurisprudence, or administrative or business management. The reduction of modern office management to rules is deeply embedded in its very nature. The theory of modern public administration, for instance, assumes that the authority to order certain matters by decree--which has been legally granted to public authorities--does not entitle the bureau to regulate the matter by commands given for each case, but only to regulate the matter abstractly. This stands in extreme contrast to the regulation of all relationships through individual privileges and bestowals of favor, which is absolutely dominant in patrimonialism, at least in so far as such relationships are not fixed by sacred tradition.

Bureaucracy and Unresponsiveness

Often public service organizations are criticized for being unresponsive to their customer's needs. One of Weber's most serious concerns was how society would maintain control over expanding state bureaucracies. He felt the most serious problem was not inefficiency or mismanagement but the increased power of public officials. A person in an important, specialized position will become to realize how dependent their bosses are on their expertise and begin to exercise their power in that position. Furthermore, the staff also begin to associate with the special social interests of their particular group or organization. Over history this has caused the shift in power from the leaders of society to the bureaucrats.

Criticism of Weberian Bureaucratic Theory

One critique was Weber's claim that bureacratic organizations were based on rational-legal authority. Parsons (1947) and Gouldner (1954) note that Weber said authority rests both in the "legal incumbancy of office" and on "technical competence". This works if superiors have more knowledge and skill, but often this is not the case. Thompson notes that in modern organizations authority is centralized but ability is decentralized (Thompson 1961). In fact staff-line distictions seem to be a structural resolution of this authority-ability quandary that Weber overlooked. Weber also doesn't distinguish between definitions and propositions in his model. His list of distinguishing characteristics are linked between each other Udy (1959) found in examining 150 organizations and found no correlation between the bureaucratic attributes of the organization and it's rational attributes. More recent theorists think that earlier theorists misread Weber and distorted his views. Weber was defining a formal rationality that was not necessarily optimal for efficiency. He realized that formalization could degenerate into formalism, and that bureaucratic forms concentrated power at the top and could cause an "iron cage" to imprison the low-level worker in obscurity and monotonous detail. References http://www.chris-kimble.com/Courses/mis/Bureaucratic_Organisations.html http://faculty.babson.edu/krollag/org_site/encyclop/weber_crit.html http://faculty.babson.edu/krollag/org_site/encyclop/bureaucracy.html http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/socsi/undergraduate/introsoc/bureau.html Weber, Max. Essay in Sociology, Bureaucracy, 1946

1. ^ Jeong Chun Hai @Ibrahim. (2007). Fundamental of Development Administration. Selangor: Scholar Press. ISBN 978-967-504-5080 2. ^ a b c d e f Richard Swedberg; Ola Agevall (2005). The Max Weber dictionary: key words and central concepts. Stanford University Press. pp. 1821.

ISBN 9780804750950. http://books.google.com/books? id=_c3Mcnh8hCgC&pg=PA19. Retrieved 23 March 2011. 3. ^ a b George Ritzer (29 September 2009). Contemporary Sociological Theory and Its Classical Roots: The Basics. McGraw-Hill. pp. 3842. ISBN 9780073404387. http://books.google.com/books?id=pX6pPwAACAAJ. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 4. ^ Marshall Sashkin; Molly G. Sashkin (28 January 2003). Leadership that matters: the critical factors for making a difference in people's lives and organizations' success. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. p. 52. ISBN 9781576751930. http://books.google.com/books?id=q12zbgs-jyYC&pg=PA52. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 5. ^ a b Liesbet Hooghe (2001). The European Commission and the integration of Europe: images of governance. Cambridge University Press. p. 40. ISBN 9780521001434. http://books.google.com/books? id=e15KnRiGipYC&pg=PA40. Retrieved 23 March 2011. 6. ^ a b c d Kenneth Allan; Kenneth D. Allan (2 November 2005). Explorations in Classical Sociological Theory: Seeing the Social Worl. Pine Forge Press. pp. 172176. ISBN 9781412059279. 7. ^ George Ritzer, Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Revolutionizing the Means of Consumption, Pine Forge Press, 2004, ISBN 0-7619-8819-X, Google Print, p.55 Cite error: <ref> tag with name "wilson1887" defined in <references> is not used in prior text; see the help page. Cite error: <ref> tag with name "entrepreneurial" defined in <references> is not used in prior text; see the help page.

[edit] Further reading

Albrow, Martin. Bureaucracy. London: Macmillan, 1970. On Karl Marx: Hal Draper, Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution, Volume 1: State and Bureaucracy. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1979. Marx comments on the state bureaucracy in his Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right and Engels discusses the origins of the state in Origins of the Family. Ernest Mandel, Power and Money: A Marxist Theory of Bureaucracy. London: Verso, 1992. On Weber: Watson, Tony J. (1980). Sociology, Work and Industry. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-32165-4. Neil Garston (ed.), Bureaucracy: Three Paradigms. Boston: Kluwer, 1993. Chowdhury, Faizul Latif (2006), Corrupt Bureaucracy and Privatization of Tax Enforcement. Dhaka: Pathak Samabesh, ISBN 984-8120-62-9. Ludwig von Mises, Bureaucracy, Yale University Press, 1962. Liberty Fund (2007), ISBN 9780865976634 Weber, Max. The Theory of Social and Economic Organization. Translated by A.M. Henderson and Talcott Parsons. London: Collier Macmillan Publishers, 1947.

Wilson, James Q. (1989). Bureaucracy. Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-00785--6.

Bureaucratic Form According to Max Weber His Six Major Principles
Before covering Weber's Six Major Principles, I want to describe the various multiple meanings of the word "bureaucracy." 1. A group of workers (for example, civil service employees of the U. S. government), is referred to as "the bureaucracy." An example: "The threat of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings cuts has the bureaucracy in Washington deeply concerned." 2. Bureaucracy is the name of an organizational form used by sociologists and organizational design professionals. 3. Bureaucracy has an informal usage, as in "there's too much bureaucracy where I work." This informal usage describes a set of characteristics or attributes such as "red tape" or "inflexibility" that frustrate people who deal with or who work for organizations they perceive as "bureaucratic." As you read about the bureaucratic form, note whether your organization matches the description. The more of these concepts that exist in your organization, the more likely you will have some or all of the negative by-products described in the book "Busting Bureaucracy." In the 1930s Max Weber, a German sociologist, wrote a rationale that described the bureaucratic form as being the ideal way of organizing government agencies. Max Weber's principles spread throughout both public and private sectors. Even though Weber's writings have been widely discredited, the bureaucratic form lives on. Weber noted six major principles. 1. A formal hierarchical structure Each level controls the level below and is controlled by the level above. A formal hierarchy is the basis of central planning and centralized decision making.

2. Management by rules Controlling by rules allows decisions made at high levels to be executed consistently by all lower levels. 3. Organization by functional specialty Work is to be done by specialists, and people are organized into units based on the type of work they do or skills they have. 4. An "up-focused" or "in-focused" mission If the mission is described as "up-focused," then the organization's purpose is to serve the stockholders, the board, or whatever agency empowered it. If the mission is to serve the organization itself, and those within it, e.g., to produce high profits, to gain market share, or to produce a cash stream, then the mission is described as "infocused." 5. Purposely impersonal The idea is to treat all employees equally and customers equally, and not be influenced by individual differences. 6. Employment based on technical qualifications (There may also be protection from arbitrary dismissal.) The bureaucratic form, according to Parkinson, has another attribute. 7. Predisposition to grow in staff "above the line." Weber failed to notice this, but C. Northcote Parkinson found it so common that he made it the basis of his humorous "Parkinson's law." Parkinson demonstrated that the management and professional staff tends to grow at predictable rates, almost without regard to what the line organization is doing. The bureaucratic form is so common that most people accept it as the normal way of organizing almost any endeavor. People in bureaucratic organizations generally blame the ugly side effects of bureaucracy on management, or the founders, or the owners, without awareness that the real cause is the organizing form. To read more about "what is bureaucracy" and how to keep the good parts and get rid of the bad stuff click here to go to The Bureaucracy Busting Book

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Six Characteristics of Bureaucracy


Crystal Lee
Crystal Lee began her freelance writing career in 2008. She has published multiple articles in "The Student Magazine" and for various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in women's studies and sociology from the University of Windsor. By Crystal Lee, eHow Contributor | updated June 27, 2011

German sociologist and political economist Max Weber (1864 - 1920) famously noted six key characteristic of bureaucratic structures. Famous for his insights into capitalism and bureaucracies, Weber contributed significantly to the world of social science. By definition an organizational form of a group of workers often characterized by inflexible routine and rigid power structure, bureaucracy introduced a shift in the paradigm of society prior to the 19th century.

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The first principle of bureaucracy states that a formal hierarchy must exist. The hierarchy consists of power levels that control each subsequent level. The top person in power controls all levels. Common practice entails appointment by a superior rather than election.

The next characteristic of the bureaucratic form regards rules and decisions. The strict structure of power requires plenty of control by rules and regulations. The top power figures in the bureaucracy make the rules and decisions which must be followed consistently throughout all levels of the structure.
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The third principle of bureaucracy relates to organization and order. Organization remains key to proper functioning of a bureaucracy. This principle maintains that members organize by function and skill as to keep similar individuals together.

Defining the focus of the structure rests the fourth principle of bureaucracy as outlined by Weber. An "in focus" form serves to fulfill the needs of members. Goals of an in focus bureaucracy relate to market share and high profits. Opposed to in focus is up focus. An up focus structure serves to profit stockholders and similarly powerful people.


Weber's fifth characteristic relates to the treatment of all employees, members and clients of the bureaucracy. Impersonality rests paramount to the success of the structure. Equal treatment and uniform policies and procedures allow for uniformity and impersonality.

The final characteristic of bureaucracies relates to employment standards. Similar to impersonality, employment within the bureaucracy relies on qualifications rather than connections and relationships. This characteristic also relates to protection from dismissal without just cause.
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Criticism of Weberian Bureaucratic Theory One critique was Weber's claim that bureacratic organizations were based on rational-legal authority. Parsons (1947) and Gouldner (1954) note that Weber said authority rests both in the "legal incumbancy of office" and on "technical competence". This works if superiors have more knowledge and skill, but often this is not the case. Thompson notes that in modern organizations authority is centralized but ability is decentralized (Thompson 1961). In fact staff-line distictions seem to be a structural resolution of this authority-ability quandary that Weber overlooked. Weber also doesn't distinguish between definitions and propositions in his model. His list of distinguishing characteristics are linked between each other Udy (1959) found in examining 150 organizations and found no correlation between the bureaucratic attributes of the organization and it's rational attributes. More recent theorists think that earlier theorists misread Weber and distorted his views. Weber was defining a formal rationality that was not necessarily optimal for efficiency. He realized that formalization could degenerate into formalism, and that bureaucratic forms concentrated power at the top and could cause an "iron cage" to imprison the low-level worker in obscurity and monotonous detail.

Bureaucracy A system of carrying on the business of government by means of departments or bureaus, each under the control of a chief, in contradiction to a system in which the officers of government have an associated authority and responsibility; also, government conducted on this system. Government officials, collectively. Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/words/bu/bureaucracy139754.html#QSJEx7Q8McdCHrj5.99

Definition of 'Bureaucracy'
An administrative or social system that relies on a set of rules and procedures, separation of functions and a hierarchical structure in implementing controls over an organization, government or social system. Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/bureaucracy.asp#ixzz1tRRgwzvH