Pros and Cons of Bureaucracy

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Literally meaning “rule by desks or offices,” bureaucracy refers to a method of organizing a large number of people who have to work together. A lot of organizations – both in the public and private sector – rely on bureaucracies in order to function. Although some may perceive bureaucracies as inefficient and wasteful, establishing one does help in establishing what everyone in a workplace should do which therefore ensures a much smoother workflow.

A bureaucrat is tasked with implementing government policy. In other words, they make sure that the laws and decisions made by elected officials are put into practice. Since we deal with bureaucratic settings on a daily basis, it’s best to look at the pros and cons of bureaucracy:

List of Pros of Bureaucracy

1. It provides control.
In a bureaucratic setting, everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing. As such, expectations are clearly communicated to everyone involved. When it comes to authority, it is centralized among the employees.

A bureaucracy ensures that job descriptions are clear and detailed. Several rules are also established over time to ensure that order and structure are maintained. With this kind of setting, it is easier for management to monitor outcomes.

2. It is machine like.
An organization with a bureaucratic setting works like a machine: there are various gears that serve a particular function and each of them useful. Although some may think that an organization functioning like a machine is rather dystopian, this kind of setting allows management to guarantee coordination that will lead to success.

3. It allows economies of sale.
Allowing jobs to be grouped into certain categories produces particular economies. As such, resources can be shared efficiently by every department. In a bureaucratic setting, job specialization leads to economies of scale because employees can work in an efficient, proficient and productive manner.

List of Cons of Bureaucracy

1. It results in low morale.
A bureaucratic setting means jobs are specialized which means that repetition is key. A repetitive pattern may not suit every employee and may even lead to boredom and eventually dissatisfaction. This kind of setting is where workers are judged on how they fulfill their tasks and not the way they delivered it. As a result, employees tend to become passive and indifferent when it comes to the goals the company wants to achieve.

2. It prevents a company from quick maneuvering.
Suppose changes are suggested for improvement within a company. Just getting these approved calls for the suggestion to be passed through many hands before a decision is made. While some may not see this as too much of an issue, problems will arise in industries that rely on being able to quickly adapt.

3. It runs the risk of making a company irrelevant.
The lack of openness in a bureaucratic setting may lead a company to become irrelevant in their own industry. Market shifts tend to happen abruptly and an organization that cannot adapt as quickly as possible will definitely fail.

A bureaucratic organization does benefit from being organized but it also suffers drawbacks in terms of innovation.