Bureaucracy in Public Administration

Last Updated: 23 Mar 2023
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A bureaucracy is a way of administratively organizing large numbers of people who need to work together. Organizations in the public and private sector, including universities and governments, rely on bureaucracies to function. The term bureaucracy literally means “rule by desks or offices,” a definition that highlights the often impersonal character of bureaucracies.

Even though bureaucracies sometimes seem inefficient or wasteful, setting up a bureaucracy helps ensure that thousands of people work together in compatible ways by defining everyone’s roles within a hierarchy. Bureaucracy is an organization that is structured with regulations set in place to control activity. The bureaucratic stricture is usually implemented in large organizations and governments. It is represented by an assembly of knowledge, power, and Hierarchy.

The Knowledge of the organization consists of the technical expertise and the understandings necessary to carry out specialized tasks, along with the capacity to gain more information as needed. The power is the central political resource, enables the organization to change in spite of what others may think. Hierarchy is the arrangement of people holding authority over others with the ability to command behavior and punish lack of compliance. Bureaucracies are meant to be orderly, fair, and highly efficient. Which means having a clear-cut division of labor is necessary.

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The principles of Bureaucracy hierarchy and of levels of authority mean a firmly ordered system of super and subordination, in which a super supervises their subordination. Such a system offers those governed the possibility of appealing the decision of super to higher authority, in a regulated manner. Within any bureaucratic authority there are principals of organization orthodox. According to the Weberian model, created by German sociologist Max Weber, a bureaucracy always displays the following characteristics:- Hierarchy: A bureaucracy is set up with clear chains of command so that veryone has a boss.

At the top of the organization is a chief who oversees the entire bureaucracy. Power flows downward. Specialization: Bureaucrats specialize in one area of the issue their agency covers. This allows efficiency because the specialist does what he or she knows best, and then passes the matter along to another specialist. Division of labor: Each task is broken down into smaller tasks, and different people work on different parts of the task. Standard operating procedure (SOP): Also called formalized rules, SOP informs workers about how to handle tasks and situations.

Everybody always follows the same procedures to increase efficiency and predictability so that the organization will produce similar results in similar circumstances. SOP can sometimes make bureaucracy move slowly because new procedures must be developed as circumstances change. In the past, organizations were commonly structured as bureaucracies. A bureaucracy is a form of organization based on logic, order, and the legitimate use of formal authority. Bureaucracies are meant to be orderly, fair, and highly efficient.

Their features include a clear-cut division of labor, strict hierarchy of authority, formal rules and procedures, and promotion based on competency. Management or administration marked by hierarchical authority among numerous offices and by fixed procedures, the Administration of a government chiefly through bureaus or departments staffed with nonelected officials. Public administration houses the implementation of government policy and an academic discipline that studies this implementation and that prepares civil servants for this work.

As a "field of inquiry with a diverse scope" its "fundamental goal... is to advance management and policies so that government can function. " Some of the various definitions which have been offered for the term are: "the management of public programs"; the "translation of politics into the reality that citizens see every day" and "the study of government decision making, the analysis of the policies themselves, the various inputs that have produced them, and the inputs necessary to produce alternative policies. Public administration is "centrally concerned with the organization of government policies and programmes as well as the behavior of officials (usually non-elected) formally responsible for their conduct" Many unelected public servants can be considered to be public administrators, including heads of city, county, regional, state and federal departments such as municipal budget directors, human resources (H. R. ) administrators, city managers, census managers, state [mental health] directors, and cabinet secretaries.

Public administrators are public servants working in public departments and agencies, at all levels of government. In contrast to private enterprises, government-owned corporation or municipality owned enterprises are not always or even usually managed on the basis of the profit motive. A deficit in this latter case does not spell the end of the enterprise or even the beginning of reforms, because it is generally assumed that the reason the enterprise exists is to 'render useful services to the public' (i. e. mploy a large part of the local population as its workforce or charge an artificially low price for its products or services), not become a slave of the profit motive. What is notable about the very idea of bureaucracy is its severe rational modernism. Political modernity and bureaucracy are largely symbiotic; the rise of the state paralleled the rise of the bureaucracy. One of the philosophers of the modern economizing state and the modern bureaucratic idea is Adam Smith (1723–1790), whose defense of the division of labor promoted the bureaucratization of the early Westphalia state.

Indeed, Smith's ideas are elemental to Weber's core tenets of bureaucracy: the rigid division of responsibilities and tasks and the economization of organizational forms. Whereas Smith advocated the division of labor in order to promote efficient economic growth, Weber suggests the division of labor for the efficient production of goods or services. Inevitably, bureaucracy was conceived as, and has become, an economizing tool for the rationalization of complex and ambiguous environments. The rationality of bureaucracy is a central idea within Weber's ideal type.

In fact, Weber himself suggests that bureaucracy be a rational-legal form designed to promote the rationalization of organizational tasks and goals. The rationalizing tendency of bureaucracy, while being one of the elements most open to contemporary criticism, was also its most attractive quality for the architects of Enlightenment-guided governance, who sought alternatives to earlier forms of despotic and aristocratic dominance. The adoption of the bureaucratic form by theorists of liberal government has its roots in the legal protection of natural (rational) rights for all.

In fact, embedded in the rationalization structure of bureaucracy is the elimination of particularism the diminishment of universal individual rights for the sake of traditional forms of class or ethnic domination. Those responsible for the French Revolution pined, within their writings, for the rational nonexceptionalism of the bureaucratic form. Indeed, as Maxim lien de Robespierre (1758–1794) and later Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859) identified, the ancient regime was epitomized by the irrational occupation of power by a centralized bureaucracy of the ruling class.

The bureaucratic organization of rational-legal authority involves the following necessary criteria: the specification of jurisdictional areas, the hierarchical organization of roles, a clear and intentionally established system of decision-making rules, the restriction of bureau property to use by the bureau, the compensation by salary (not spoils) of appointed officials, and the professionalization of the bureaucratic role into a tenured lifelong career.

The idea of bureaucracy suggests that rules, norms, merit, regulations, and stability are paramount to the operation of government. The rule-bound nature of bureaucracy has been widely critiqued in modern political and sociological analyses; however, the number of alternative forms of organization that have received as much consideration is limited.

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Bureaucracy in Public Administration. (2016, Nov 20). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/bureaucracy-in-public-administration/

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