The bureaucratic theory was developed by Max Weber, included two key elements, which included having clearly defined rules for managing an organization and setting up a hierarchy to control the employees within the organization. Weber called his theory bureaucratic management theory or Weberian bureaucracy, which he used as a basis to explain how organizations throughout history have managed themselves. Bureaucratic principles are applicable to all kinds of organizations, large and small. They have principles that are not very different from those of other management theories such as the famous Taylorist, or managerial, economics principles.
The bureaucratic theory maintains that a business must set up a system for management, which has its own rules for managing the employees as well as the process of production. A bureaucratic management theory is also based on the fact that a business must also set up rules for employees that must be obeyed by all employees. These laws or regulations must be uniformly applied by all employees so that no employee will be able to cheat the system. It is also believed that employees must follow these laws or regulations if they want to earn a paycheck.
The bureaucratic theory believes that organizations are made of rules and procedures that cannot be changed. No matter how hard managers try, organizations will end up with too many rules and regulations that can easily be manipulated or broke. Bureaucratic principles were used in all kinds of organizations, including the United States government. Although the concept of Bureaucratic theory was later adopted by social scientists who were influenced by Weber’s work, it is still widely used in business today. Below is an example.
In the United States Department of Defense, Bureaucratic theory is applied using a strict hierarchical form in all its institutions. For instance, senior leaders at the Department of Defense may have their own division, and officers have their own group of aides, specialists, and inspectors. The inspector’s job is to make sure that the process of buying defense articles is carried out properly. Another example of strict bureaucratic management is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has a very rigid organizational structure where all its branches have their own task that they must perform consistently.
The other side of Bureaucratic theory is the extreme form, which is Weber’s Bureaucratic Manifold. It is believed that there can be no form of management that can be completely free from all forms of control. Bureaucratic managers must always find ways of imposing control over employees even if they have to resort to corrupt and unfair practices. The bureaucratic theory is applicable especially to organizational structures like that of the FDA.
The bureaucratic theory is opposed to strict regulatory policies and strict enforcement of the existing laws. The philosophy of Bureaucratic Manifold is based on the following assumption: All existing regulations are rules. And all rules can be changed by the will of those who dictate them. If a law is written in a book and mandated by political power, then nobody can change it. However, if these laws were arbitrarily imposed, then Bureaucratic Management theory predicts that those governing bodies would be more likely to exert their will against their subjects.
Another aspect of Bureaucratic Management is called the Bureaucratic hierarchy. This view suggests that managers within an organization constantly seek to upgrade themselves, just as followers of a cult seek to improve themselves to reach god-like status. In this way, managers may attempt to create a bureaucratic hierarchy, in which subordinates believe that they are moving up the organizational ladder to a position of ultimate power. Such hierarchy would make their tasks and superiors’ duties easier. However, once they reach the top, they realize that all that they have achieved so far is merely a short-term goal for which they have no real control.
There are many possible interpretations of Bureaucratic Management and there are also many possible means of implementing the above management principles. The above-mentioned Weberian view of Bureaucratic Management is highly influenced by Weber’s conception of ‘Ludwig’ as an idea that expresses the process of finding meaning in life. His approach to work in Bureaucratic Organizations is highly influenced by his conception of the work as meaning the process, and his view that meaning is independent of work efforts, so that we do not need to place importance on results (efficiency or quality) in our analysis of management practices. His approach to Bureaucratic Theory is thus a highly interpretive one and is used by those who would like to understand Bureaucratic Management better.