Advantages and disadvantages of Bureaucracy

This is a generic characterisation of all large-scale, complex organisations, public and private. It is not an exclusive property of governmental units. This, of course, does not mean that there are no differences between governmental and non-governmental organisations. The executive structures of the federal government and general motors are different in many important respects, even though both reveal highly developed bureaucratic characteristics.

Advantages of Bureaucracy.

It is a neutral term that connotes a particular type of organisation without imputing any value judgement. Applying ethical or moral norms to organisation goals, one may assume that "good" and "bad" organisations do exist. Bureaucracy is simply an administrative device employed to accomplish an effective means-end relationship. Any assessment of the means is accomplished in terms of the extent to which they positively or negatively affect the attainment of goals. Positive aspects of bureaucracy are concerned, the simplification of complex tasks ranks high.

A bureaucratic organisation satisfies this requirement by segmenting the overall organisation into a set of highly specialised sub-units, each assigned responsibility for a single phase of the overall operation. Although a modern industrial assembly line can hardly be considered a bureaucracy, the principles are the same. By subdividing a complex problem into simple and manageable proportions, ideally a set of simplified solutions will emerge that can be unified into a single complex solution to the previously unmanageable complex problem.

Bureaucracy according to Weber, is referred to as the "technical superiority", thus every complex problem, having been broken down into small, manageable proportions, is then examined, analysed, and "solved" by a group of trained specialists or experts who, in their respective capacities, are capable of responding with precision, speed, and maximum efficiency. Viewing the sub-units within the bureaucratic structure collectively, the operating efficiency and goal attainment functions of the organisation are enhanced significantly by the utilisation of expert knowledge, which focuses on narrow segments of a total problem.

If the simplification of complex tasks yields a set of subunit specialisations and a correspondingly high degree of individual expertise in each area, then expertise should theoretically, at any rate encourage an increase in objective, impersonal decision making at the subunit level. For example, the decision-making process in a non-bureaucratic, small group setting may be conducted based on very informal and even personal considerations. Under these circumstances, all members of the organisation either participate in, or perceive that they are capable of participating in, the actual decision-making process.

Consequently, subjective values can be applied to operating procedures without necessarily diminishing the overall efficiency of the organisation. It seems reasonable to conclude that subjective type decisions, based on personal considerations, need not necessarily be "bad" or disruptive if this personal bias can be standardised throughout the entire organisation. Nevertheless, within large, complex organisations where the interpersonal, informal face-to-face relationships cannot be maintained the standardisation of personal bias cannot be assured.

Under these circumstances, as Weber noted, the continued application of an individual's own subjective values to policy or operating decisions can seriously disrupt the operating effectiveness of the organisation. Disadvantages of bureaucracy. Despite the obvious advantages of a bureaucratic approach to the solution of broad, complex problems, bureaucracies can also create problems, or problem situations, which for the most part, non-bureaucratic organisations can avoid.

This is not to suggest that each of these problems is, in fact, evidenced in every bureaucratic organisation, or that of non them are ever evidenced in non-bureaucratic settings. However, given the basic characteristics that differentiate bureaucratic and non-bureaucratic organisations, it does seem reasonable to suggest that it is easier for the latter groups to avoid and/or resolve these problems. The two basic internal problems that are within every bureaucratic organisation are; 1. The Control of organisational behaviour

2 The effectiveness of the internal decision-making process In both instances, the greater the size, scope, and complexity of the bureaucratic structure, the more serious both problems become, and, consequently, the greater the share of organisational resources which must be utilized to maintain maximum operating effectiveness in both areas. The control of organisational behaviour: an organisation is actually a composite image of the attitudes, values, and beliefs of its members, especially its top-level officials.

Admittedly, the effects of operating continuity tend to blur the past, the present, and future into one conglomerate image, which frequently gives rise to the notion of the organisation. Nevertheless, it must be recognised that organisation decisions, are made by individuals-by fallible human beings- and they must be examined in this perspective. In order to maximise individual effectiveness, the bureaucratic organisation must insure that actual performance of its administrators closely coincides with the established expectations.