Does bureaucracy have advantages or disadvantages on an organization
Organizations are complex an large in size which means that relation are formal and impersonal, it’s a system of interrelated (coordination) parts or sub-units, differentiated and interdependent, aiding the process of integration (external environment, outside the organization) and coordination (internal environment, inside the organization). Members of organization may have goals (ends) which are contradictory to senior general (general management) – enterprise and firms don’t have goals.
So many theories are in discussion but does the bureaucracy have advantages or disadvantages on the organization?
There was agreement on some issues among the three theorists (Durkheim, Weber, Marx), and some disagreements.
* The agreement was on the personal deprivations and indignities suffered by workers. This is occasioned by technology, work organization and structure, division of labor, deskilling, etc. This leads to societal instability because of classes and class conflict, and major risk to personal freedom and autonomy.
* There was also agreement that organizations represented new principles: rationality, the market, individualism and anti-traditionalism.
There were disagreements about the origins of problems, classes and organizations.
1. Marx saw that capitalism was the problem. The problems were not the result of industrialization, but the result of the new form of economy: capitalism.
2. Durkheim saw that rapid industrialization was the problem, where reforms are needed rather than revolution. Class conflict came from lack of regulation in industrial relations and unorganized development of division of labor. The state should develop regulations and associations. Durkheim saw in industrialization a breakdown of control and moral regulation.
3. Weber occupies an intermediate position between Durkheim and Marx. He sees that the key variable is the spread of rationality in bureaucracy and capitalism. Bureaucracy is necessary and the capitalist system plays a major role in the development of bureaucracy. All grades of employees are expropriated from ownership of the means of production under rational bureaucracy, not just factory workers, as in Marx.
Weber’s bureaucracy had the following implications: (a) classes are based on people’s market positions, (b) there is a process of rationalization, and (c) there is expropriation of the individual from his/her work and work output.
Bureaucracy is a clear division of work with boundaries to responsibilities, it’s a formal rules, procedures resulting in predictability, and documentation of actions and decisions, it’s a well defined hierarchy of authority and appointments to posts based on technical competence (diploma), these key attributes of bureaucracy have disadvantages on the organization:
Tom peter criticizes bureaucracy in his book “in search of excellence” and objected to certain type of rational action that’s based on rules, techniques and structural devices (power authority) so we have submission that the culture is a solution because it binds employees together (motivation) where bureaucracy does not. Bureaucracy discuss conflict, domination, subordination and manipulation (do not operate with skillfully), it didn’t make any progress in goal diversity and uncertainty.
Bureaucracy is a hard strategy where can’t shape value (rigidity of behavior and defensive routines) and it’s hierarchy, where low trust dominate and where managers don’t get involved with the employee think-believe-value ( isn’t flexible), however employees feel owner ship of shaped vision in culture strategy.
Human Resource Management has no exist in bureaucracy which has very important role in providing climate of trust.
Bureaucracies helped HRM in recruitment, performance appraisal, and other system.
Bureaucracy isn’t quickly in responding to customers needs and changes in market so it concerned the most disadvantage of bureaucracy and can not work with the innovation so re-structuring is necessary.
Throughout the world, many large companies are still bureaucracies. The importance of external environment put pressure on large companies to leave bureaucracy. So we have many substitutes of bureaucracy
1- downsizing and lean production: reducing in company size by the lay-off and the de-laying.
2- Devolved management: decentralization and SBU strategic business unit is a second major form of restructuring
3- De-structured organization: knowledge creating companies, empowered teams process based companies.
This celebrates getting away from bureaucracies and rigid rules and breaking down internal barriers and formal structure.
Companies have been also reduce their product development cycle by several years by using cross-functional teams composed of engineers, marketers, manufacturing, experts financial analysts (week point in bureaucracy).
In the 21 century, companies will not use boundaries to separate people, tasks and processes. They will try to permeate these boundaries to move ideas, information and resources (shape value) where they are most needed, this is a “paradigm shift” towards boundary-less structure.
Old success factors: concerning bureaucracy :
-size : increasing
-role clarity: to provide specific task for specific employees
New success factors:
-speed: to response to the market changes
-Flexibility: shaped value
-integration: good interaction with the external environment
-innovation: with speed response with competitive advantage
In conclusion, bureaucracy is an administration characterized by specialization of functions under fixed rules and an hierarchy of authority also an unwieldy (lacking in something necessary) administrator system deficient (not easily managed or handled because of size or weight) in initiative and flexibility.
Even companies that implement culture controls are still need for bureaucratic technical and other systems. So theory is different than practice, in practice we must use strong points from each theory and make our own strategy which work with the external environment to manage the organization.