Thursday, February 24, 2011

the ideal types that bureaucracy contains

Firstly, ‘the regular activities required for the purpose of organization are distributed in a fixed way as official duties’. Each administrative official has a clearly defined area of responsibility. Complex tasks are broken down into manageable parts with each official specializing in a particular area. For example, state administration is divided into various departments such as education, defense and the environment. Within each department, every official has a clearly defined sphere of competence and responsibility.  

Secondly, ‘The organization of offices follows the principles of hierarchy; that is every office is under the control and supervision of higher one’. A chain of command and responsibility is established whereby every officials is accountable to his immediate superior both for the conduct of his own official duties and those of everybody below him.

Thirdly, the operations of the bureaucracy are governed by a ‘a consistent system of abstract rules clearly defines the limits of the authority held by various officials in the hierarchy. Obedience to superiors derives from a belief in the correctness of the rules. The rules also lay down fixed procedures for the performance of each task. They impose strict discipline and control leaving little room for personal initiative or discretion.

Fourthly, the ‘ideal official’ performs his duties in ‘a spirit of formalistic impersonality…. Without hatred or passion’. The activities of the bureaucrat are governed by personal considerations such as his feelings toward colleagues or clients. His actions are therefore rational rather than personal.

Fifthly, officials are appointed on the basis of technical knowledge and expertise. Weber states that, ‘Bureaucratic administration means fundamentally the exercise of control on the basis of knowledge. This is the feature of it which makes it specifically rational’. Thus officials are selected in terms of the contribution their particular knowledge and skills can make to the realization of organizational goals. Once appointed, the official is full-time paid employee and his occupation constitutes a career.

Promotion is based on seniority or achievement or combination of both.

Finally, bureaucratic administration involves a strict separation of private and official income. The official does not own any part of the organization for which he works nor can he use his position for private gain. In Weber’s words, Bureaucracy segregates official activity as something distinct from the sphere of private life’.

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