Bureaucracy is No Longer Appropriate Today
Bureaucracy, first proposed by Weber, was once considered as the best form of administration, coordination and control (Stazyk and Goerdel 2011). It was generally adopted by many large social organizations and gradually became their mode of administration (Adler 1999). During the initial period of bureaucracy, it made great contribution to the proper organizing of large social or corporate system through specialization of roles, standardization of procedures and coordination of employees (Balle 1999). However, with time going by, the shortages and problems inside bureaucracy were exposed.
It was revised and improved by many people. A model called post-bureaucracy was proposed to avoid and revise the disadvantage of bureaucracy (Johnson et al. 2009). The aim of this essay is to discuss the major advantages and disadvantages of bureaucratic systems in the past and the present. This essay argues that bureaucracies are definitely not appropriate in workplaces today for effective and efficient management. At first, this essay will give an appropriate definition of bureaucracy and illuminate who has contributed to its development by referring Dwyer (2005) and Hodgson (2004).
After that, based on the research of Balle (1999), Adler (1999), Hodgson (2004),Walton (2005), Sorensen (2007), Dwyer (2005) , Hales (2002), Stazyk and Goerdel (2011), this essay will critically analyze the advantages and disadvantages of bureaucracy in the past and present, and in particular, impacts on managers and employees. Following that, this easy will analyze how bureaucratic management may be viewed differently today from the past by referring Johnson et al. (2009). What’s more, this easy will explore the context of management situations.
It will also critically analyze whether bureaucracies are appropriate for today’s management based on the research of Walton (2005) and Hales (2002). At last this essay will sum up the core arguments this essay presents. Definition of bureaucracy and its development Bureaucracy is a kind of rational organization of management, which is centralized and hierarchically organized. It is characterized by a rigid division of labor, layers of authority, impersonal relationships and formalistic rules and procedures (Dwyer 2005).
The historical process of bureaucracy theory, from proposal to evolution, was integrated with the contribution of numerous theorists and practitioners. In the early 20th century, Weber first proposed his ideal type of bureaucracy (Adler 1999). His idea laid the foundation of organization theory. The ideal type of bureaucracy had a profound effect on the way large social organizations organized. It helped large-scale organizations avoid chaos and assure efficiency.
However, as an ideal model, many scholars criticized, revised and improved Weber’s ideal type of bureaucracy and made their own contribution to the development of it (Dwyer 2005; Hodgson 2004). For example, Taylor founded the Scientific Management School and it emphasizes maximum productivity and compact division of labor (Dwyer 2005). Mayo began and developed human relations school and it emphasizes the free of constraints of bureaucracy (Dwyer 2005). Heckscher proposed post-bureaucracy and postulated specific difference between the traditional bureaucracy and the post-bureaucratic model (Hodgson 2004).
All these schools above, as well as many other advanced theories and approaches, have contributed to the development of bureaucracy. The inherent advantages and disadvantages of bureaucratic system in the past and the present will be discussed as follows. Advantages of bureaucracy Bureaucracy provides a good way to deal with large organizations. In the past, organizations were lack of theoretical guidelines of management. Balle (1999) claims that duplication of labor, low level of resources utilization and inefficiency of work existed in large-scale organizations before the proposal of bureaucratic management.
At present, many large organizations still organize their management in the form of bureaucracy to avoid chaos (Adler 1999). Bureaucracy provides a series of documents that describe the working procedures as well as rigid rules and regulations to make organizations run properly (Hodgson 2004). Even in today’s organization, documents and manuals are provided to make employees know exactly their roles. Organizations operate as a machine. Managers give orders while employees act as components and parts of the machine with the guidance of bureaucratic management.
They work cooperatively, concertedly and thus effectively. According to the guidance, employees know exactly what they should do and managers would have a chance of supervising everyone in the company. For example, the long-lasting feudal model has proved the advantage of bureaucratic system to manage such a large whale (Balle 1999). The effective control of organizations and efficient use of resources make large-scale production possible. Specialization is another feature of bureaucratic organizations as every employee is allocated to a particular task to perform.
In the past, it was human resources not machines that constructed the basic productive force in organizations. So it is of great importance to deploy the human resources (Johnson et al. 2009). Even today, employees in the large organizations have clear assignment of work and responsibility. Bureaucratic management emphasizes the clear division of work and specific boundaries to responsibilities. So employees can concentrate more on his or her specialized trade and learn more about it (Balle 1999). The result is more, better and cheaper productions.
For example, like a flow production, employees just focus on their own part of work and need not take care of others. A production is completed when all the work of employee is combined. The coordination of employees and explicit division of work will increase the speed of production and save more time (Adler 1999). The result is the improvement of the efficiency of the production system. What’s more, with the clear awareness of the role of employees, managers can properly manage employees and allocate resources. Then the effectiveness of management can be improved.
Bureaucratic system needs fewer individuals to make strategic decisions based on its hierarchical structure and decision-making time can be shorter. Nowadays, quick response to the market and rapid decision-making are possible because of the hierarchical structure of bureaucratic system. The hierarchical structure is like a pyramid with employees on its bottom and managers on its top (Hales 2002). In the past, in traditional organizations many relevant individuals took part in the decision-making meeting. The meeting might be held one round and another to reach a common agreement.
It is a waste of time and may be inefficient. In contrast, fewer individuals from the top of pyramid are involved in making strategic decision with the bureaucratic management (Stazyk and Goerdel 2011). This will shorten the decision-making time and free the organizations of the risk of missing opportunities. As a consequence, the response time to the market is reduced and the timeliness of production is improved (Adler 1999). In this way the efficiency of production can be improved. However, as an ideal type of mode, bureaucracy also has some inherent disadvantages. Disadvantages of bureaucracy
Bureaucratic organizations are generally found to be rigid and inflexible because employees should strictly abide by the formalized rules, regulations and documents. Nowadays, the society is changing with the time and bureaucratic systems are viewed as red tape and rule proliferation (Stazyk and Goerdel 2011). With the changing conditions in the marketplace or industry, organizations constrained by rigid and inflexible rules and regulations can find themselves less able to fit the rapid changing environment (Walton 2005). The change of rules and regulations may be much slower than the variation of marketing or industrial environment.
Much of the urgencies may fail to be dealt with because of the constraint of rigid and inflexible rules and regulations. The result is an inefficient management. In the past, to make the large-scale organization operate normally, the human side of things is ignored and rules and regulations are emphasized. But nowadays, people-oriented management emphasizes the empowerment and autonomy instead of rules and regulations (Dwyer 2005). Bureaucratic organizations may discourage creativity and innovation because employees must perform the task according to a set of rigid procedures.
As the key factors to compete with various counterparts, creativity and innovation are emphasized more today than the past in organizations (Hales 2002). But to bureaucratic organizations, rigid or even outdated rules and regulations place so many unnecessary limits on employees (Adler 1999). They can hardly think and act of their own. When employees confront problems that need a new solution, their new ideas may be prevented by the restrictiveness of bureaucracy. What’s more, in bureaucratic systems employees are lack of initiative, passion and sharing of ideas. This will lead to a lack of creativity and innovation.
These two factors are of significant importance for organizations to survive and keep the core competitiveness in such a rapid changing environment (Sorensen 2007). Without creativity and innovation, organizations can no longer achieve the quality goals and enhance the ability to survive and complete effectively in the changing business environment. The result is the ineffectiveness of management. Impersonality is the feature of bureaucracy and it emphasizes a mechanical way of performing task. In the past, organizations needed management based on rational and impersonal rules and regulations.
The rules and regulations have been legally established to minimize cost and maximize control (Hales 2002). The result was that employees worked like robots according to the impersonal rules and regulations. They had no emotions and belongingness of organizations. Thus their attitudes and mental dispositions may be influenced by bureaucracy (Sorensen 2007). Nowadays, organizations emphasize more on employee’s needs and emotions, rather than impersonal rules and regulations. Organizations that stick to impersonality may lead to dehumanization, what’s more, the friction between employees and manages (Dwyer 2005).
The result is the depression of employee’s personality and weak belongingness to their workplace. They may do their job without full of passion or even conflict with the order of managers. This will lead to an effectiveness of management. After the discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of bureaucratic management in the past and present, discussion below will analyze the differences of bureaucratic management today from the past. Difference of bureaucracy nowadays and in the past Bureaucratic management is different today from the past.
Firstly, Organizations emphasize more on quick response and less hierarchical structure than a set of rigid procedures. To keep up with the changing business environment, much of the unnecessary rigid and inflexible rules and regulations must be changed or removed (Hodgson 2004). Empowerment and responsible autonomy of employees are needed rather than the rigid procedures (Johnson et al. 2009). The result is a remarkable improvement of efficiency in management.
Secondly, creativity and innovation are the core competitiveness for organizations to compete with their counterparts and therefore those limits of bureaucratic systems on employees should be eliminated (Hales 2002). Employees are encouraged to propose or experiment their new ideas regardless of the constraint of rigid procedures because rigid procedures may bring effectiveness to organizations (Stazyk and Goerdel 2011). Last but not least, human-based management has been widely accepted in organizations and the impersonality of bureaucracy is no longer encouraged. Employees can feel the care and warmth of human-based management and improve their belongingness and the well-being of the organization.
The result is more hard-working employees and the improvement of effective management. After discussing the differences of bureaucratic management today from the past, an analysis of bureaucracy’s inappropriateness for today’s management will be given as follows. Bureaucracy’s appropriateness for today’s management The context of management situations is different from past and bureaucracy is definitely no longer appropriate today. It is true that bureaucracy made great contribution to the progress of management when it was first proposed by Weber (Walton 2005).
But with the development of society, the disadvantages of bureaucracy gradually appeared. Nowadays organizations call for flexible and humanized rules and regulations, quick response to the changing environment and employees, creativity and innovation and belongingness of employees (Hales 2002). In other words, organizations need the effective and efficient management that can make them survive and compete in this rapidly changing world. All of these above are conflicted with bureaucracy. So bureaucracy is no longer appropriate for today’s management. However, there are still a lot of places can be learnt from bureaucratic system.
Conclusion In conclusion, bureaucracies are definitely not appropriate in workplaces today for effective and efficient management. The following statements sum up the finding of this essay to support the conclusion. Firstly, the rigid and inflexible rules and regulations of bureaucratic system often result in a failure of quick response to the changing environment. It may lead to an inefficient management especially for large-scale organizations. Secondly, creativity and innovation may be discouraged by a set of rigid procedures of bureaucratic system and therefore lead to an ineffective management.
Thirdly, employees perform task in a mechanical way according to the impersonal rules of bureaucratic system. The result is that employees can hardly feel the belongingness to their workplace. This may lead to a failure of work and an ineffective management. All of these above demonstrate that bureaucracy is not appropriate for today’s management. However, there are still shining points that can be learnt from bureaucratic management. When dealing with the management of large-scale organizations, bureaucracy and modern management methods can be mixed to insure a better control of organization and an effective and efficient management.