Bureaucratic management refers to a management style in which strict adherence to law and rules is emphasized, hierarchy is followed and flexibility is not tolerated but rather the following of laid down procedures. Such a style is lacking in terms of ‘enterprising’ freedom and rarely do employees produce or perform to their maximum. In this paper, the bureaucratic management style will be discussed with an aim of highlighting the main characteristics of the bureaucratic style.
Secondly an effort will be made in order to establish where the bureaucratic management owes its origin from as well as what factors contributed to the development of the management style. After careful assessment of the system, the author hopes to make a balanced assessment on the appropriateness of the system as well as to briefly compare it to other management systems.
As well as discussing the post-bureaucratic management, this paper will highlight the main characteristics of post-bureaucratic tradition as well as making a judgment on its suitability to today’s business and to asses whether it has replaced bureaucratic management. However in this paper neither of the management styles is supported but on the contrary the author raises pertinent issues on the characteristics identified as well as merits.
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According to, Clegg, Kornberger, and Pitsis, (2005.
62-100. ) how values, power, rules and discretion are interconnected determines the performance of the organization and are core to bureaucratic management. Organizational structure forms in bureaucratic management a very critical role. In bureaucratic management, organizational structure is usually rigid and relations amongst workers are determined by their respective positions in the organization something which makes the style very impersonal.
Bureaucracy can be said to promote and advocate for the protection of the individual from organizational discrimination something which is favorable especially due to the fact that, too much vulnerability of a manager to the superiors in the organization may not augur well for managers. In such an environment, management is not affected by secondary factors such as ethnicity, class, gender, economic status and race as rising to such positions does not call for one to be loyal to any senior authority but rather to follow the proper and laid down organizational rules.
The above is very crucial for smooth functioning of organizations and makes bureaucratic management very ideal management style. While bureaucratic management instills order and control in an organization, abuse of bureaucracy by managers is always a possibility in bureaucratic management. Although it is counterproductive, bureaucratic management can thrive where staff is keen on following the laid down procedures. Clegg, Kornberger, and Pitsis, (2005.
99-108) argues that bureaucracy is too restrictive and rule bound although such claims have been echoed by other critics of bureaucratic management who argue that the above arises due to the fact that, it is based on equality before law, ones qualifications for management positions as well as the fact that it is based on liberal norms, such as equal representation and equal opportunities for all those who qualify. In addition, modern bureaucratic management has tended to encourage gender mainstreaming in the offices.
While civilization was a major catalyst for the evolution of bureaucratic management, some have questioned the claim arguing that bureaucratic management at its best fails to be responsive to the fast unfolding scenario of civilization. A major characteristic of bureaucratic management is the fact that they are rule-driven. In fact, organizations which use bureaucratic management style are known to follow properly laid down procedures for executing any function and deviation from such is detrimental and could cost the “offender his/her job”.
Therefore, bureaucratic management depends on strict rule interpretation in order to determine what should be done and not done as well as to determine the way forward for the organization. Although there is a clear need nowadays for organizations to be market responsive, bureaucratic management rarely achieves that goal something which can explain why such organizations are fast being avoided by an increasing number of business enterprises and a quite a substantial number of public offices and departments. Clegg, Kornberger, and Pitsis, (2005. 56-79.
) warns that the crave to migrate from bureaucratic management to other market responsive management styles may at the long run not achieve the change desired but rather serve to cause a further craving for further management reforms. He further notes that a good understanding as well as knowledge of bureaucracy is necessary if success is to be achieved in management. It’s easiness to implement stems from the fact that since it is naturally founded and deep rooted in the rule of law, it becomes easy for subjects to relate with it and therefore it naturally attracted traditional managers as the ideal type of management in most situations.
On top of that, subordinates are more likely to adhere to rules and procedures under bureaucratic management because of the authority the system accords to supervisors over subordinates as compared to other systems which do not accord much power to superiors (Ackroyd, 2002. 80-123). Bureaucratic management mainly conforms to hierarchical structures which have clear defined roles and responsibilities for every single employee in an organization and hence well defined and curved out duties for every single employee.
The system also encourages the adherence to rules and therefore career growth, promotions are easy to sort out as every one is often aware of all that is required by the organization in order to be promoted. Like wise, recruitment follows the traditional jobs filling methods in which superiors appoint or interview subordinates for staffing. Bureaucratic management can cause limitation of individual’s freedom in some cases but that is necessary especially in military organizations which deal with security matters very sensitive and needing much control.
Whilst bureaucratic management is grounded on principles aimed at regulating its application it at the same time causes the management to curtail freedom of worker to conduct individual affairs under the desired privacy. In bureaucratic management rules are designed to meet the wishes of the top management and subordinates are expected to comply with orders of superior authorities without questioning something which has led to many people branding the type of management as dictatorial.
The fact that it emphasizes the division of businesses into hierarchical thus putting the organization under strict lines in which authority and control is the goal makes the style to loose supporters in the modern business environment. In addition bureaucratic management favors a system whereby, duties, rules and procedures are generally fixed something which is fast loosing support in post bureaucratic management tradition evident in most organizations today.
In bureaucratic management, a lot of emphasis is put on experience and qualifications for one to be employed and it is characterized by the supervision of lower and subordinate officers by the higher office. Bureaucratic management is monocractical while office workers or state servants are expected to follow the laid down rules (Clegg, Kornberger, and Pitsis, 2005. 56-79). Another major characteristic of bureaucratic management is that it is characterized by impersonal relationships amongst the workers in the organizations. It is also characterized by the formal division of labor.
In the USA evidence of bureaucratic management is seen in the functioning of the government, the Department of Defense as well as in schools and large corporations. Bureaucratic management is different from other forms of management such as scientific management in that the latter is more concerned with the association between employees and machines. Other management theorists such as Henri Fayol advocated for administrative management in which emphasis is laid on management functions as well as the roles of managers in the functioning of organizations through the principles of management.
Bureaucratic management therefore entails a system whereby the bureaucratic manager at the helm passes judgment and his/her will is followed without compromise. In bureaucratic system, the will of the boss is the authority and their words final and not subject to any challenge. Bureaucratic management does exist even in democratic environment but it calls for a careful balancing in order to achieve positive growth of organizations in terms of functionality of the different departments as well as to ensure orderliness.
While bureaucratic management advocates for mandatory adherence to laid down laws and rules as well as procedures, whenever failure to do so happens, it is met with punishments according to the laid down punishment laws. Bureaucratic management has been accused as a system which discourages one’s freedom space and also for not doing anything to tap the potential in people. Although such accusations are not necessarily true, bureaucratic management cannot be termed as good or bad but rather should be viewed as sometimes the most ideal when some situations prevail.
History of bureaucratic management Bureaucratic management can be traced back to military and religious leadership which preceded the emergency of big businesses and organizations ( ). In the pre industrial era when trade was not well organized and little or no industries existed, the need for management existed. Public order was a necessity and therefore there was a need for governments to guarantee that. One method of management came to be very popular especially due to its ability to ensure the smooth running of activities.
That called for establishment of law as most of the management then depended on adherence to strict and well laid out rules. Naturally only a bureaucratic management could augur well for managers who did not enjoy today’s access to management tools nor the advantage of technology un like today’s mangers and therefore bureaucratic management which puts little demands on the managers was viewed as the ideal system of management.
In the 18th century, the subject of bureaucracy was studied in depth even by fathers of sociology such as Max Weber who supported its adaptation in management due to its suitability to management of large organizations. He contended that for effective management of large organizations, managers needed to be empowered and protected from environmental threats and the only way to do so was to have a management style which was simple but effective.
In the 18th century, bureaucratic management gained much acceptance especially from the religious organizations, governments and military due to attributes such as the fact that it is easy to execute functions under bureaucratic management, and the belief that the system is logical as well as the fact that it advocates for procedures. The above factors were favored in order to achieve the smooth running of organizations. In terms of religion, there were in the ancient times religious clergy who due to the role they played in religious festivals were functioning in strict bureaucratic management.
The development and division of society into social classes and the widening gap between state and society therefore creating the need for control, enforcement of law and order, introduction of tax collection, all this called for another group known as ‘officials’ to fill the gap of overseeing activities in both public and private business all contributed to the introduction of bureaucratic management. Post-Bureaucratic Management The twin issues of power and knowledge management are crucial for a post-bureaucratic management system ( ).
The fact that in any given organization there is quite a number of contradicting elements, such as human beings with different needs from the organization, the organizational goals which the same human beings must achieve calls for effective organizational management so as to address needs at all levels. While human beings constitute a very important part of the organization, that they must be managed in order to play their roles effectively is a fact that cannot be wished away.
Human beings as a key resource in any organization must be managed in every way possible to achieve organizational goals as well as a positive organizational culture, a positive working environment and the achievement of the objectives of the organization. Characteristics of post bureaucratic management. Post bureaucratic management encourages employee participation. Post bureaucratic tradition advocates for a business environment whereby employees are empowered to contribute in terms of ideas and skills towards the growth and development of the organization.
The bureaucratic management style is considerate of the fact that, people are talented differently and rather than suppressing the potential in individuals, management is supposed to discover and nurture any special skills as well as capabilities in the workers or staff through programs such as training and refresher courses. The above is only possible in an environment whereby management encourages its employees to participate fully in the decision making process.
In a modern world in which technology especially information technology and internet has changed drastically how business is carried out as well as how people interact, bureaucratic tendencies are fast becoming outdated. The above is a clear sign of a fast changing business world and this is pointing to the fact that time for post bureaucratic management tradition has come. That fact is further strengthened in view of the concept of globalization which favors the communication structure in many organizations to shift from vertical to horizontal as time plays a crucial role in determining how profitable a company is likely to be.
Team work is also another characteristic of post bureaucratic management. While most bureaucratic management systems are a one man show in that, the manager and the superiors are the brains behind every innovation the organization aims to achieve, post bureaucratic management advocates strongly for team spirit. There are numerous benefits associated with team work the most important of all is the synergetic effect that results when staff in an organization function as a whole rather than individuals.
Another pointer to the fact that today’s managers have shifted from bureaucratic management to a post bureaucratic management system is the fact that most organizations have dropped the rigidness earlier associated with the decision making process as evident in bureaucratic management in favor of a more flexible decision making system. Today most organizations take less time to make decisions and resolves issues which under the bureaucratic management system would take weeks to settle.
The above can be attributed to the involvement of many people in the decision making process as opposed to leaving the function of decision making and deliberations to a small clique of managers. The above coupled with the popularity of being flexible is gaining ground and many organizations are dropping that culture whereby decision making process was inflexible. Open discussion as well as deliberations of issues. In bureaucratic management, management reserves the right to discuss any issues which arise.
However in post bureaucratic management, management encourages the participation of all employees in the system before any changes are incorporated. This has become very popular especially with employees as more and more feel important to the organization something which boosts employee motivation to work. Today that trend is evident as the use of market research as well as surveys has become very popular as management of most organizations tend to seek for the input of all employees before any major changes are instituted in the organization.
It tries to nurture employees into an intellectual capital. There is a growing trend of organizations to nurture and even shop for talented employees in post bureaucratic management. This is in sharp contrast to bureaucratic management in which to fill some vacancies, one has to undergo some rigorous process in the organization so as to achieve promotions. Evidently, an organization’s culture, its systems, as well as the process of effecting change are very crucial for organizations nowadays.
Therefore today’s managers play a very important role in management of organizations. While in bureaucratic management, the use of mediation apparatus, theories of management, business tools, the use of decision support systems and also other tools such as white boards is not very common, in the recent times that have become a key part of management process. That is yet another pointer to the fact that, organizations are drastically shifting to post bureaucratic management tradition and practices.
With analytical business tools such as SWOT analysis, balanced scorecard, porters 7 principles and PEST analysis constantly being applied by business that points to yet a drifting away pattern from bureaucratic management to post bureaucratic management. Post bureaucratic management is based in the belief that the production of knowledge is a process which can be learnt and perfected while bureaucratic management proponent believe that it production of knowledge is a social practice in which individual people performance rather than teams is more important.
There is clear evidence today that, organizations are laying more importance to team work and communal spirit rather than individual effort. Post bureaucratic management is the undisputed and ideal management system that can save organizations from the effects of today’s business challenges as well as solve and counter challenges of this global knowledge based economy in which the rate of discoveries, innovativeness and the crave to be ahead of others is forming the centre piece of organizations.
The amount of administration related duties in the contemporary society is evidence enough for the continuing relevance of bureaucratic management in the post-modernism era. There is an increased relevance businesses are attaching to division of labour coupled with the growth of multinational companies with extremely enormous sales turnover. Future without Bureaucratic Management Many have experimented with the idea of a future without bureaucratic management in that there will be a minimal need for supervision due to a highly responsible and self disciplined society.
Although the above argument leaves more on socialism ideals it is however a feasible possibility. Modern bureaucratic management has been applauded for being impersonal. Comparison between bureaucratic management and post bureaucratic management The advent of mass production catalyzed the introduction of post bureaucratic management due to the high demand put on the organizations in terms of production as well as the need for routines and procedures in production.
The advancement of technology has led many to imagine that bureaucracy would be abandoned. However the truth of the matter is that no matter how high technology has contributed to the mechanization of production the need for workers is still very evident. This is due to the fact that still people are needed to operate the technological equipment in the design of the computer systems so central to today’s organizations as well as to oversee the process of production. Therefore, bureaucracy remains very relevant in the post-bureaucratic era.
Bureaucratic management is characterized by high costs making it a less ideal management Accusations against bureaucratic management it is rigid in decision making hence slowing down the decision making process. The fact that officials feel threatened by lack of adherence to rules may affect unity of the organization as suspicion is likely to arise. Bureaucratic management has been accused of being insensitive to morals. Bureaucratic leadership does not encourage empowerment of followers.
Bureaucracy leads to a lot of dependency on a few people to chart the way forward for an organisation even when it is clear that contribution of subordinates may matter. Bureaucratic management suppresses talent and while it may augur well for governments its effectiveness for private business is questionable. Bureaucratic management is accused of being inflexible and that it is argued that it would affect economic growth were it to be implemented in wholesome therefore compared to entrepreneurship and in a capitalistic setting bureaucratic management may not be ideal in some cases.
While bureaucratic management advocates for high levels of accountability, post-modernism management dwells on employee capability unlike bureaucratic management which emphasizes on employee competence. While bureaucratic management lays emphasis on age in terms of who is allocated the more complex work and is likely to be promoted, post-modernism lays more emphasis on the capability of people to analytically resolve matters inspite of experience or their age.
Bureaucratic management lays emphasis on the organizational design, that is structure in terms of roles and responsibilities, on top of that, the mode adopted by an organization in as far as decision making process is concerned as well as the style of human resource management is concerned it is very rigid for bureaucratic management. The governance of human resource in post-modern management is accommodative. Post-modernism management puts a lot of emphasis in cultural relevance to organisation management but bureaucratic management comes short of this.
Bureaucratic management lays emphasis on value such as responsibility, loyalty and accountability as well as adherence to fixed rules ad regulations. Bureaucratic management puts more emphasis on the existence of formal authority to superiors. Bureaucratic demands for obedience of higher authority. In bureaucratic management, emphasis is laid on the monopolization of information by the top hierarchy. Promotion process is clear, thus moving up the corporate ladder is something which follows certain pre-set patterns.
The decision making process is often pegged on fixed steps. There is emphasis on equality at work, because of emphasis on vertical communication there are clear set boundaries which are very hard to break in bureaucratic management. Post-bureaucratic Management emphasizes on role of dialogue amongst people as opposed to the authority imposing their word and therefore consensus is achieved through involvement of dialogue. Unlike in bureaucratic management whereby internal trust is not critical, post-modern management thrives on high level of loyalty from subordinates.
The migration from bureaucratic management has been occasioned by the introduction of market reforms. In addition, it is not easy to permeate boundaries as vertical communication is highly valued unlike in post bureaucratic management where there is a high degree of information sharing. The decision making process in post-bureaucratic management is highly flexible. Unlike in bureaucratic management in which things remain the same for long periods, in post modern management change is often welcome.
Bureaucratic management has been accused of lacking in terms of motivation to employees. Conclusion From the above discussion it is evident that bureaucratic management is totally irrelevant relevant to today’s management. It has for long been used in both public and private management. The major characteristics of bureaucratic management identified above are, that is highly pegged on rules and roles, adherence to strict procedures, and it is hierarchical, that it does not call for loyalty as well as the fact that it is not flexible.
On the other hand post bureaucratic management is more flexible, it advocates for loyalty and internal trust, it is permeable and not rigid, it is not hierarchical and finally it encourages open discussions in as far as decision making process is concerned. References Ackroyd, S. (2002. 80-123). The Organization of Business, Oxford. OUP. Clegg, S. R. , M. Kornberger, and T. S. Pitsis (2005. 56-79). Management and Organizations: An Introduction to Theory and Practice, London: Sage Word Count: 3,697 words.