Bureaucratic School of Administration


The bureaucratic school of administration is a school based on rational principles. This, adapting the means to the ends that are expected to be achieved, thus guaranteeing efficiency in the administration.

First of all, we are going to clarify that this school is also known as the structuralist school of administration. Its greatest exponent is Max Weber, who considers that bureaucracy is the most appropriate way to administer modern organizations.

Also, the antecedents of this school emerge in the seventeenth century at the end of the European Renaissance. Formally it appears during the 1940s, and it was opposed to the mechanical way as the classical school of management operated and to the subjectivity of the school of human relations. Thus, it appears as a new proposal to efficiently manage modern organizations.

Now the bureaucratic management application can be found in different organizations. It can be the case of hospitals, schools, courts, churches, armies and both public and private companies.

What is bureaucracy?

To begin with, bureaucracy can be understood as a form of organizational structure or an organization that is characterized by having a set of explicit and regularized procedures. In addition, the division of responsibilities, the hierarchical level and the impersonal relationships are clearly defined.

Characteristics of the bureaucracy

The main characteristics of the bureaucracy are:

1. Rationality

Only the use of rationality can lead to the efficiency of the organization. Therefore, all activities and tasks that are carried out must follow the rational approach.

2. Hierarchy

Every employee of lower rank must be subject to the control and supervision of a superior. That is, the authority system is rigid. For this reason, the structure of the organization must be hierarchical, linear and rigid.

3. There are regulations

The administrative rules and procedures are defined and there must be a written record of it. Therefore, all regulations are legal.

4. It is impersonal

The relationships between the members of the organization are based on positions and hierarchy, not on people. That is, each position is independent of the person.

5. Define the functions

The activities and functions of the workstations must be carried out in accordance with established routines and procedures. The division of labor is one of the fundamental pillars of bureaucratic administration.

6. Communication is formal

The communication is formal because any activity or task performed by a company employee must be reported in writing.

Most Important Factors in the Bureaucratic School of Management

The most relevant factors for the bureaucratic school of administration are:

1. The human being

The human being is considered simply as one more resource that is used in the organization to achieve the goals and objectives. In this system, the human being must be obedient, to the regulations and standards established in their workplace.

2. Motivation

The motivation that is handled in this organizational system occurs in two different ways. One form of motivation is that the employee can move up in the hierarchy.

The second form of motivation is personal, in the sense that the employee wishes to pursue a professional career within the bureaucracy.

3. Communication

Communication within the organization is handled in two ways, ascending and descending. The downstream is basically the transmission of orders by the superior to be obeyed by the subordinate.

The ascendant goes from the subordinate to the superior. In general, they are reports or reports of the work and results achieved. Also the subordinate can express the disagreements that he finds in his job.

4. Leadership

Leadership is not an important characteristic in this management system, since the superior only has to carry out the specific functions of the position he occupies.

5. Power

Power in this form of organization is conferred by the position and not the person. Authority is formal. The simple fact of occupying a superior position confers dominance over subordinates.

6. The conflict

Generally, it is considered that there are no conflicts, since the functions and tasks are clearly delimited. Thus, each position or department must function efficiently.

7. Decision making

Decisions are made mechanically. If there is a problem, it is related to the established rules and in this way it is decided how to solve it.

8. Participation

Of course, the level of participation is totally nil. Each employee is limited to meeting the requirements of the position he occupies.

9. The change

Change is something very feared. If it has to be changed, the structure is considered to have failed because it has to modify its actions.

10. The environment

The environment is seen as something that does not change and that always remains unchanged. It is practically considered as something static.

Advantages of the bureaucratic school of administration

Among its most important advantages we find:

  • The work seeks the achievement of objectives.
  • Each member knows what their duties are.
  • The written rules are clear and precise.
  • The processes are routine, are more automated and have less margin for error.
  • The company has continuity, although there is a change in personnel.
  • There is less conflict, because everyone knows what to do.
  • It is reliable because the processes have been tested and work.

Disadvantages of the bureaucratic school of administration

The most important disadvantages are:

  • Relationships are impersonal.
  • It generates conformity at work, the same thing is always done.
  • Business models can be very rigid.
  • There is waste of time on paperwork and cumbersome formal procedures.
  • It can generate abuses of authority.
  • It causes resistance to change.

In conclusion, it can be said that the bureaucratic management school seeks to achieve efficiency through the application of rational principles. The bureaucratic management structure is scientifically designed so that everything works precisely, especially to achieve the objectives and goals of the organization.

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