A bureaucracy is an administrative or social system that relies on a set of rules and procedures, separation of functions and a hierarchical structure in implementing controls over an organization, government or social system. Large administrative staffs are most common in large organizations that need standardized rules and procedures or consistency across a wide range of business activities.
The term bureaucracy was coined in 1745 by Jacques Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay.
Features of Bureaucracy
Weber has given a number of features of bureaucracy. Accordingly, following features suggest the characteristics of bureaucratic organizations:
1. Administrative class
Bureaucratic organizations generally have administrative class responsible for maintaining coordinative activities of the members. Main features of this class are:
i. People are paid and are whole time employees.
ii. They receive salary and other perquisites normally based on their positions.
iii. Their tenure in the organization is determined by the rules and regulations of the organization.
iv. They do not have any proprietary interest in the organization.
v. They are selected for the purpose of employment.
The basic feature of bureaucratic organization is that there is a hierarchy of positions in the organization. The bureaucratic organization follows the principle of hierarchy i.e. lower office is subject to control and supervision by a higher office.
3. Division of work
Work of the organization is divided on the basis of specialization to take advantages of division of labor.
4. Official rules
The administrative process is continuous and governed by official rules. Rules provide the benefits of stability, continuity and predictability and each official knows precisely the outcome of his behavior in a particular matter.
5. Impersonal relationships
The relationships are governed through the system of official authority and rules. Thus decisions are governed by rational factors rather than personal factors like emotions and sentiments.
6. Official Record
Bureaucratic organisation is characterized by maintenance of proper official records for future reference.