Bureaucracy of web

Bureaucracy of Web's 'ideal type' and the strengths and the weaknesses


Bureaucracy is an important component in the organization system, and plays a key role in management. But "if you ask people to supply an adjective to go along with the noun, their choices will almost inevitably be pejorative. Weiss and Barton (1980) recent horseback survey brought forth a list that included 'sluggish,' 'cumbersome,' and 'byzantine,' but the clear leaders in popularity were 'swollen' and 'inefficient.' Even dictionaries have nasty things to say about bureaucracy." In fact, people have misunderstood bureaucracy. Weber (1947) defined bureaucracy's core as the activities of the organization through office or position rather than through an individual or a hereditary position to manage it.

To make the role of administrative organization, management should be based on knowledge-based control, managers should have enough ability to work, and it should be based on objective facts, so this is a collective activity related to the sociological concept of rational. And Weber (1947) also believed the bureaucratic system is the economic rationality of modern capitalism, the high expression of the full development of the bureaucratic system is a strict implementation of the functions of the organization and management system, which the whole society into a vast impersonal machine so that all social action based on functional the relationship between efficiency in order to protect society organizations to maximize economic benefits.

In modern society, organization and management of the bureaucratic system is already penetrating into every area of social life, reflecting the rationalization of social life. Weber (1947) thinks this is inevitable in modern society 'fate'. On the one hand it allows people to dilute the value of the initiative as the pursuit of ideals and ideology, focusing or functional efficiency. On the other hand, ruthless exploitation of people's individual freedom so that modern society has deeply by means of volume control purposes and to replace the purpose of process. This paper will explore Weber's 'ideal type' in bureaucracy, analysis of its several forms, and discuss the strengths and the weaknesses of the bureaucratic form in organization.


Firstly, Weber (1964) believed that bureaucratic management system have characters about precise, stable, disciplined, serious and tense, and reliable. As he said it could be applied to all tasks in the form. From a purely technical point of view it can achieve the highest degree of perfection. Therefore, bureaucratic management of system is implemented in the form of rule and administration in the most rational form, which can be widely applied to various forms of management and large organizations, such as national institutions, businesses, churches, schools, military units and various groups. So he advances the bureaucracy's 'ideal type'. In particular, it includes the following seven elements:

  1. Establish a clear division of functions. Weber (1999) thought all the activities of the organization's professional division of functions, and in accordance with this division of functions, determines the management positions, specifying the rights and the various positions of responsibility. And he also deemed all members of the organization should assume a particular position. Apart from a few positions to be elected, the other management personnel are directly appointed. All managers, who are not irreplaceable, can be replaced at any time. But One thing in organization is also important - teamwork. A company was strong, the reason is that the cooperation between employees, cooperation, and further co-operation. Teamwork is a kind of limited (or disadvantage) under the conditions of the environment and resources in order to survive and means of development is an initiative to pursue the natural survival of the fittest rules, optimization of the collective sense of crisis.
  2. To establish a clear hierarchy of authority. Position the organization according the principle of hierarchy, which is defined by Weber (1999), from top to bottom order, and subject to a common command and decision-making center to form a tight series of administrative hierarchy. For example, manager makes the decisions and actions to their employee. Employee must obey orders from their manager, and are subjected of control and supervision. On the other hand, in order to enable each manager to achieve their responsibilities should be given the corresponding rights, to have the right to give orders to subordinates. Hierarchy of authority, to determine the relationship between command and obedience, like the militarization of the management, their immediate superiors to absolute obedience, even sometimes order a timely manner may be unreasonable. Each leadership in the same level should mutual supervision so that the operation of the teamwork is more effective.
  3. High formalization. Weber (1947, 1999) thought business handling and deliveries are subject to a written document to ensure the accuracy of business processes, to avoid arbitrary and ambiguous attitude. It can provide a better and formally way to copy, transmission, and save for document.
  4. Establish responsibilities and authority regulations and systems. Both Weber (1999) and Robbins (2005) advanced the organization to run the various operations and systems are incorporated into these regulations and asked each member of the organization must be in accordance with these rules and regulations involved in their activities. They should accept the uniform rules and regimes.
  5. Employment decisions based on merit. Weber (1999) defined that all positions within the organization are well-trained professionals to act as on their selection and upgrade their technological capabilities are also based. Through public examinations to select and hire personnel, and through possess the necessary technical skills as the selection and recruitment of personnel objective criteria.
  6. Office constitutes a career for the office holder. Both Paul (2000) and Weber (1999) believed that management of all the positions are based on certain criteria employed. Organization issued to them a fixed salary, to protect the rights they deserve the same time, also has the power to dismiss them at any time. Their work performance evaluations and whether the promotion is entirely dependent on their superiors.
  7. Separation of organizational and personal lives. Paul (2000) said each member of the organization should be achieving their duties, to exclude the interference of personal feelings. Interpersonal relationships within the organization are the relationship between the positions, not personal relationships between individuals.

Weber (1964) believes that organizations with these characteristics will enable the organization to demonstrate a high degree of rationality, the staff's behavior to achieve the desired results and organizational goals can be achieved prosperous. Weber's 'ideal type' of bureaucratic organizational model, he presented an institutionalized organization rules for organization, this is his greatest contribution in the management. Although some of these characteristics still appear in large organizations in modern society, his model does not appear in universal (Paul, 2000). Contemporary organizations, as Paul (2000) believe that too much emphasis on bureaucratic administration, the division of labor, formal rules and regulations, thereby depriving the individual creativity of employees. Nevertheless, for a highly flexible organization of professionals, such as General Electric and Cisco Systems (Weber, 1999), the bureaucratic administrative structure for ensuring the efficient use of resources is still necessary. Although, Toye (2006) believed that characteristics could be understood by analyzing and would become more pervasive as the modern age advanced. John said the 'ideal type' cannot represent modern bureaucracy, and Weber knew the different situations of the bureaucracy that existed in different country.


Secondly, according to Weber's view (1947), any organization should have some form of authority as a foundation. The appropriate authority can eliminate confusion and bring order, there is no such authoritative organizations cannot achieve organizational goals. Therefore, with the history of the three kinds of social dominance behavior correspondingly, there are three types of authority.

Weber (1999) noted that 'Rational - legal authority' is based on the rules within the organization as the authoritative basis for that policy. Rules and regulations should comply with the law and who has authority under the rule of law decree powers. Based on 'rational - legal authority' of the dominant behavior is actually based on the rules of the organization subordinate to and characterized by respect for the law, because the dominant behavior in this way, employees obey the leader's order was out of the rules of the organization and compliance with the law, laws and rules on behalf of a universal order. Therefore, employees and superiors are equal in the legal status, each of them bound by the rules of the organization.

And 'rational - legal authority' of the dominant behavior in different ways, 'traditional authority' based on the behavior of social dominance, the beliefs and respect for traditional culture-based, believes that the traditional sanctity of the result of a long history, it believe that has a in power according to the traditional implementation of the rule of legitimacy. The literature (Weber, 1999) show that the power is characterized by:

  1. The hereditary privileges. For example, in some period, prince will always be the king; Earl's children will always be Earl;
  2. Feudal. Dominator between being dominated by the relationship between master and servant;
  3. Absoluteness. A few persons have the control right, particularly those in the highest disposable, power is unlimited, they has supreme power.

"Schermerhorn, Hunt and Osborn (2000) argued that the rational and logical idea of bureaucracy was superior to building the firm on the basis of charisma or cultural tradition." So another authority is Weber called 'charismatic' authority, which base on extraordinary ability of individuals, heroism, exemplary character of worship and superstition, such as with Martin Luther King. But Weber (1999) argues that the main problem is difficult to find a suitable replacement for the original leader is nearly impossible.

Weiss and Barton (1980), by these three kinds of authority based on the dominant mode of social organization and its comprehensive comparison can be found, the traditional authority methods of domination in order to maintain the tradition of the past, their presidents are selected not by the ability, thus efficiency is low. The 'charismatic' authority based control methods are more of emotion, according to some mystical or divine revelation which often dominated behavior brought about subjectivity and arbitrariness. Therefore, both the power and the establishment of the authority which basis of these two authority, and made pursuant to the authority of these two dominant behavior is non-rational category, both of them are not appropriate as a modern bureaucratic organizations and behavior, and that only 'rational - legal authority' of the law could be regarded as a modern bureaucratic organizations and acts of foundation.

On the other hand, Kozak and Keagle (1988) believe that the 'charismatic' authority based on personal charisma-type behavior is a dominant short-term and unstable form of domination. After a period of time, the authority is become routinization, or transform into the 'traditional authority', or transformed into the 'rational - legal authority'. Therefore, stable and institutionalized forms of domination in fact there are only two ways: one is the traditional and patriarchal system, which the concrete expression is the feudal system and the family property system; the other is the modern rational and legal system. Weber's view that (1999), both in ancient China and Europe, there is exist a period of charismatic type of rule, and he pointed out that support this power is a personal quality, or from the clan, and reflected in the personal of the divinity. Moreover, according to Weber's judgments, the 'charismatic' authority, the authority is often occurred in a time of crisis of the whole clan, as individuals and created a miracle to make his people turned the corner, so the people deeply believed him. For this reason that Weber was concluded that such a charismatic type of rule is unstable, only a temporary and randomness of existence, though it could go by continuous crisis to be proved, or converted to another regime. Generally speaking, the historical facts are often proved the latter form, which is the 'charismatic' authority converted to the 'traditional authority', because a successor occurs that was the origin of the hereditary system of succession. Although the hereditary system as the original form of patriarchal clans, but it quickly developed to a patriarchal form of bureaucracy, which was restricted some conditions. This bureaucratic system that is described by the Weber (1999), it is defined as traditional bureaucratic system. The system is a lack of professional management skills of the bureaucracy, and the most important thing is that this bureaucracy does not have a reasonable legal system.


"Robbins (2005) believed the primary strength of the bureaucracy lies in its ability to perform standardized activities in a highly efficient manner." When problems occur, each decision is made all has a clearly defined, significant savings of time to make decisions, while a clear division of labor will reduce processing complexity of the matter, increase the efficiency of dealing with the problem. "Robbins (2003) believes the bureaucracy is characterized by highly routine operating tasks achieved through specialization, much formalized rules and regulations, tasks that are grouped into functional departments, centralized authority, narrow spans of control, and decision making that follows the chain of command." Weber (1999) particularly pointed that there are two points:

  • Maximize efficiency. Specialized division of labor cause working range, responsibilities and content are more accurate. On the other hand, written management makes staff and in turn the reliability of resources allocation greatly enhanced, strict hierarchical system and the system as well-organized and orderly operation of a stable framework for work to maximize the efficiency.
  • Fair and democratic. The rule frame and implement of regulations to maximize the exclusion of the human factor, same pay, equal treatment to ensure the fairness of the work. In situation of administration, to professional, technical, exactly as the standard is fair, open and competitive environment protection. And the way that the organization may award any power to some of members, also enough to keep system transparent and participate democracy.


Blundell and Murdock (1997) believed that bureaucracy have variety of weaknesses form, work excessively bureaucratic and shirk their responsibilities, indecision, only know that calling the shots and perfunctory, do not care about efficiency and business efficiency, which are consist in organization, but it have different of degree. For many organizations, the impact of bureaucracy is fatal. Bureaucracy will not only superimposed on the level of the organization, but also blocking the communication and exchange between departments, management will be divorced from reality, which will reduce the company's response and adaptability of the environment, and also deeply wasted the firm's resource consumption and reduce operating efficiency, more seriously, because from the business reality, it is result in business and strategic mistakes, to bring disaster to the company (Schermerhorn, Hunt and Osborn, 2000).

Bureaucracy of the organization will be a negative impact on the individual. Bureaucratic would affect a person's thinking of the basic logic, and limit people's innovation and pioneering spirit. A successful business is open his own mind from outside, but a bureaucratic company is autistic. In this system, the survival of individuals also began to lose their professional skills and business sensitive, and once they left the organization, actually they will find that they have not anything at all. Some scholars (Weber, 1999) observed that in China the lack of mechanisms for conflict resolution, officials often take advantage of the traditional politics of personal relationships to solve the problem, which became a bureaucratic system of the potential hazards.


A successful company should have a complete, practical regulatory system, which is an important guarantee of the company's ability to function properly and healthy development, and is also an important basis for an enterprise human resources management. The system, not only can help businesses realize standardized management and operation, but also beneficial to company's development. This assignment has explained the central importance of the Webber's 'ideal type' in bureaucracy. Weber (1947) believed that bureaucracy is a rigorous, rational, such as a tantamount to the machine as a social organization. It has a skilled professional active, a clear division of responsibilities and rights, strict implementation of rule and regulations, as well as the hierarchical pyramid subordinate relationship characteristics, making it a system management technology system. On the other hand, Weber (1999) presented three types of authority in bureaucracy, the play different roles at different times, but they can coexist and also in indispensable. At the last, the paper discusses strengths and weaknesses of the bureaucratic form of organization. The bureaucracy's have rigor, rationality, stability, universal, and also have the weaknesses which are include machinery, rigid, restricting the members of the enthusiasm and creativity, and information communication is slow. Fortunately, many companies have recognized these problems, step by step to perfect the bureaucratic system, so as to achieve the best management results, and gain more benefits from. Bureaucracy is not easily disappear from the stage of history, will be there in a very long time, and place 'modern deformation'.


  • Blundell, B. & A. Murdock (1997) Managing in the Public Sector
  • Westin, A. F. (1971) Information Technology in a Democracy, Harvard University Press
  • Kozak, D. C. & Keagle, J. M. (1988) Bureaucratic Politics and National Security
  • Robbins, S. P. (2005) Essentials of Organizational Behavior
  • Schermerhorn, J. G. Jr., Hunt, J. G. & Osborn, R. N. (2000) Organizational Behavior, Von-Hoffmann Press.
  • Robbins, S. P. (2003) Organizational Behavior, p434
  • Weiss, C. H. & Barton, A. H. (1980) Making Bureaucracies Work, London: Beverly Hills
  • Birchall, D. & Lyons, L. (1995) Creating Tomorrow's Organization, FT Pitman Publishing
  • Weber, M. (1930), the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
  • Weber, M. (1964), the Theory of Social and Economic Organization, Chicago: The Free Press
  • Weber, M. (1999), Sociology, China Social Sciences Press
  • Weber, M. (2000), Basic Concepts in Sociology, Citadel
  • Weber, M. (1947), the Theory of Social and Economic Organization, Chicago: The Free Press
  • Paul, D. G. (2000), In Praise of Bureaucracy, London: Sage
  • Catherine, C. (2002), Critical Analysis of Organizations, London: Sage
  • Paul, D. M. (ed.) (2001), The Twenty-first Century Firm: Changing Economic Organization in International Perspective,
  • Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press
  • Toye, J. (2006), Modern Bureaucracy, United Nations University

Please be aware that the free essay that you were just reading was not written by us. This essay, and all of the others available to view on the website, were provided to us by students in exchange for services that we offer. This relationship helps our students to get an even better deal while also contributing to the biggest free essay resource in the UK!