Introduction to Bureaucratic Management

Bureaucratic management is a management technique which uses a system of rules and procedures to organize and control the work of an organization. It is a type of managerial control in which the organization’s structure provides a clear, detail instructions on how tasks are carried out. Bureaucracy also includes rigid hierarchies that lack transparency and feedback.

In 1930, Max Weber coined this term, as a criticism of government bureaucracies. It has been used to describe both public sector bureaucracies such as the military, education, judicial and health systems and private sector bureaucracies such as the modern business corporation.

According to Weber, bureaucracy is a form of rationalization where the inputs (what humans do) and outputs (resulting in economic value) are separated from each other, making it difficult for humans to see practical consequences of their actions.

Rationalization approach to management is the opposite to Bureaucratic management.

Traits and Characteristics of Bureaucratic Management

Traits of Bureaucratic Management

There are some basic traits that prevail in this management. Some of such traits are:

The first trait of bureaucratic management is that it is a process-oriented approach. It focuses on how to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of a given organization by identifying what processes are necessary and then improving them.

The second trait of bureaucratic management is that it focuses on organizational structures and processes as opposed to individuals. The focus is not on individuals, but rather on how to improve an organization as a whole.

The third trait of bureaucratic management is that it has an ambiguous definition, which leads to confusion as to what actually constitutes bureaucracy.

The final trait of bureaucratic management is that people criticizes this management for standing too rigid and inflexible in nature, which leads to employees feeling like they are slave to that company.

Characteristics of Bureaucratic Management

Bureaucracy is an organizational system that has been in use for centuries. Modern organization, which are large and complex uses thus form of management. The main goal of this type of management is to keep the organization running smoothly and efficiently.

The 10 characteristics of bureaucratic management are as follows:

  • Hierarchy
  • Top-down decision making
  • Centralized control
  • Rigidity
  • Bureaucratization
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Unpredictability 
  • Lack of trust among employee
  • Inefficiency in decision making process
  • Lack of creativity

Six Rules of Bureaucracy

While describing the concept of Bureaucracy, Max Weber identified six characteristics or rules of a bureaucracy.

Characteristics of the BureaucracyDescription
Hierarchical Management StructureEach level controls the levels below and is controlled by the level above. Authority and responsibilities are clearly defined for each position.
Division of LaborTasks are clearly defined and employees become skilled by specializing in doing one thing. There is a clear definition of authority and responsibility.
Formal Selection Process Employee selection and promotion are based on experience, competence, and technical qualification demonstrated by examinations, education, or training. There is no nepotism.
Career OrientationManagement is separate from ownership, and managers are career employees. Protection from arbitrary dismissal is guaranteed.
Formal Rules and RegulationsRules and regulations are documented to ensure reliable and predictable behavior. Managers must depend on formal organization rules in employee relations.
ImpersonalityRules are applied uniformly to everyone. There is no preferential treatment or favoritism.

Weber thought bureaucracy would result in the highest level of efficiency, rationality, and worker satisfaction. Also,  the term “bureaucracy” has taken on negative connotations. It reflects with excessive paperwork, apathy, unresponsiveness, and inflexibility.


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