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Assess the view that bureaucracy is the most efficient form of organization.

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Introduction

ASSESS THE VIEW THAT BUREAUCRACY IS THE MOST EFFICIENT FORM OF ORGANIZATION The characteristics of bureaucracy were first devised by the German sociologist Max Weber, (1864-1920). He believed it to be a formal system of organization and administration designed to ensure efficiency and effectiveness (Jones et al. 1998). A bureaucratic system of administration is based on six principles; job specialization, authority hierarchy, employment and career, recording, rules and procedures and impersonality. According to Weber it is these characteristics that define whether an organization operates in an efficient manner. However Weber provided a theoretical model, and whether that model promotes efficiency for all organizations remains to be seen. One of the most fundamental features of a bureaucracy is the division of labour based on functional specialization. This is attained by a precise and detailed definition of the duties and responsibilities of each position or office. When the tasks and authority associated with various positions in the organization are clearly outlined, managers and workers know what is expected of them and what to expect from each other. In addition, an organization can hold all its employees accountable for their actions when each person knows their responsibilities. Therefore behaviour becomes standardized as actions are performed the same way time and time again, and the outcomes of their work are predictable. This can be an efficient way of operating an organization. ...read more.

Middle

Employees then find their skills no longer necessary in running that system, while their capacity to acquire new skills for a new situation has not been developed. Therefore it seems for dynamic and innovative organizations, a bureaucratic structure would not be suitable to achieve high efficiency. All procedures and rules are impersonal in a bureaucracy and therefore apply to all employees in the same way. In this way the rules are applied to everyone in the same way, which creates consistency and avoids bias. Alternatively it can be seen as standardizing all cases in an inflexible manner. Specifics are not taken into account that could influence decisions, therefore letting down those the system is meant to support. From the six characteristics of a bureaucracy it is impossible to say that Weber's ideal type of bureaucracy is the most efficient form of organization for every corporation. In fact every organisation is likely to involve certain characteristics to varying degrees. So in the ideal type of bureaucracy all six principles would exist to a high degree, whereas in a less bureaucratic organization they would be present to a smaller degree. Which is more efficient depends on several other factors concerning the type of organization and what its tasks are. One major factor that may determine whether a bureaucratic structure is the most efficient form of organization is the size of the firm. ...read more.

Conclusion

Conversely, if organizations are constantly under the pressure of change a highly bureaucratic system will not work. In corporations that experience such change, individuals often have more freedom to grow and mature, due to a more flexible organizational structure. However it is very rare that organizations are either of the extremes. It is more likely that they have a balance in order to work most effectively. It is this balance that combines various other forms of organization, along with the bureaucratic style, to create the desired outcome. Consequently bureaucracy is often used in conjunction with other organization styles, which makes certain aspects of it very efficient. Each individual corporation must be considered in isolation, and appropriate controls applied. It is likely certain aspects of bureaucracy will be applied, but the extent to which it is appropriate will vary from case to case. Overall bureaucracy has adapted and survived since Weber first put forward his theory. The evidence that it is still in use today must mean it has been efficient to a certain extent. It obviously provides more benefits to certain organizations, but since most firms employ certain characteristics of Weber's bureaucratic style it must be an efficient form of organization. A high degree of bureaucracy may not be appropriate to all firms, but for the ones it does benefit it seems to be a very efficient way of employing all resources to attain the desired outcomes. ...read more.

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