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Weber`S Ideal Bureaucracy Essay, Research Paper

1) When Weber analyzed bureaucracies, he developed an ideal type model, which consisted of six essential features. These features described how bureaucracies function and develop. The features Weber identified are as such: specialization; hierarchy; written rules and regulations; impartiality; impersonality; recordkeeping. These features are essential to upholding the purpose of efficiency bureaucracies were created for.

Specialization in a bureaucracy means that each status or office has a set of tasks and responsibilities. This way each office has to and will only handle their responsibility; there is a clear understanding of what they have to do and they stick to it so that they do not get caught up in doing another office’s duty, making their job simple so that it gets done.

The girth of the status pyramid decreases as the amount of power increases. There are more people allowed to handle the basic functions of the bureaucracies. The greater the responsibility or task, the less number of people are needed to handle it; in one or two person’s hands lies the responsibility and ability to control the matter. This hierarchal approach makes getting things done quick and easy. In fewer words: “The buck stops here.”

When people know exactly what they have to do, it makes it easier for them to do it. Ambiguity leads to uncertainty, miscommunication and misunderstanding which defeats the whole purpose of bureaucracy: efficiency. If no one knows what they are doing, they are like chickens with their heads cut off, squaking and ultimately accomplishing nothing. The written rules and regulations of a bureaucracy assure that such a scenario does not occur.

There is nothing more frustrating than having someone who has no idea what they are doing, taking care of your needs. Incompetence is the greatest contributor to inefficiency. In bureaucracies, people have been given training or are pre-qualified for the jobs they are given. People get their jobs because they are best qualified not because they know someone who can give it to them; there is no room for partiality.

In a bureaucracy, there is no room for sympathy, emotional attachment and things of that nature. Impersonality is a key function to the efficiency of the bureaucracy because when feelings are involved, individuals lose sight of their role, violating the function of stringent adherence to written rules and regulations, de-specializing their job and making themselves partial.

Recordkeeping processes of a bureaucracy allow for greater amounts of information to be gathered and retained for future reference, use, referral, etc. In this way, better and more efficient, informed and appropriate decisions and actions can be taken.

Even though bureaucracies are for purposes of efficiency, they are not always such; there are advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantages of bureaucracies include ritualism, bloat and secrecy, preservation of inequality, invasion of privacy, and incompetence.

Ritualism is a disadvantage because people get so caught up in rules, regulations and procedures that they lose sight of purpose, which proves to be very inefficient.

Offices or departments often compete with the other in order to receive more benefits, or “organizational resources,” which can result in over-sizing of departments. Too many people can mean many mistakes, and due the emphasis of gain through competition, it is easy and desirable to dismiss or cover-up mistakes that can, in the grand scheme of things, be vital to the survival of the bureaucracy. This disadvantage can be coined as bloat and secrecy.

While there are laws against discrimination, laws cannot change belief systems; laws merely make it harder to act on ones beliefs. There are ways to discriminate or preserve inequality; a woman or a minority’s work habits can be more scrutinized than say, a white man, and there is no way to stop it.

Computers are great inventions and what we know as hackers or nosy bodies especially believe this. The ease, with which information can be retained from a computer, raises the issue of invasion of privacy. How great is it when someone with no place in your business, has unlimited and unusual access to your personal information?

Promotions in bureaucracies are granted when an employee does a good job with the job they are given. Just because a person can perform one job well, does not mean that they are competent enough to handle the next step. Just because someone can pack a box, it does not mean they know what they are putting in it, much less why. This is bureaucratic incompetence and there is no limit to the consequences of this, making it a disadvantage to the survival of the bureaucracy.

The hierarchy of a bureaucracy breeds oligarchy; the greatest power is concentrated within a few individuals. Impersonality within the membership leads to almost dictatorship-like practices executed by the leaders of the membership. Consequently, only the leaders’ ideas and interests are addressed and/or instituted and the membership is devalued.

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