10 Characteristics Of Bureaucrac, What is bureaucracy?


The bureaucracy is an organization system whose function is to administer and manage certain matters that require particular order.

This system responds to a group of laws or specific rules of procedure. As for its etymology, the word has its origin in the French language (bureaucracy) and means “office or desk” (office) and “power, government or domain” (cratie). The bureaucracy can be public or private, depending on whether this term is applied in the public or private sphere.


It was the German economist Max Weber who studied the term and definition as a set of rules that organizes companies. This bureaucracy is, for Weber, a management mode with rational foundations, where each individual has a specific function and each one collaborates so that the ends of the company can be realized.

From the current concept of what bureaucracy means, it can be divided into 3 major meanings:

  • Bureaucracy in a derogatory sense. It is used in informal language.
  • Bureaucracy as social classes that belong to the State.
  • Bureaucracy as a form of organization, or “bureaucratic model of organization” (definition of Max Weber).

Next, we will use the term bureaucracy according to the German economist and sociologist Max Weber.


10 Characteristics Of Bureaucracy - What is bureaucracy?

Characteristics Of Bureaucracy

1. Regulations

The rules are embodied in clear regulations, which are prepared in writing, and they must be available to all employees. They are the cement of the organizational structure. Generally the regulation is presented from the first moment to each individual that begins to form part of the company or administration.

2. Hierarchies

It is important to establish and make clear what is the hierarchy that must be respected, ie who is the manager, assistant manager, heads of each department and staff. In this way, the whole company knows who it should respond to or address.

3. Formality of communication

The communication channels used in the hierarchical pyramid (bosses and employees of different ranks) must be effective and guarantee the reception of the information to be transmitted. Some communication channels are: email address, telephone, newsletters, internal chat for employees of a company, etc.

4. Division and work procedures

This division must be rational and systematic. The positions or functions must be defined according to the experience and studies reached by each employee according to the demand of the position. For this reason it is always talking about positions and not people.

These guides and work routines must be written and be of knowledge for each area. This establishes procedures where everyone knows what to do and when. They can be written in manuals, guides, charts, etc.


10 Characteristics Of Bureaucracy - What is bureaucracy?

5. Labor standards

Labor standards must be based on the impersonality of the positions. That is, each job must respond to a profile and each employee must adjust to that profile to which he aspires or since it should be covered.

In other words, it is not about work norms where the person covers a position determined by closeness or sympathy towards others, but this position must be framed in the knowledge acquired and the skills or strengths that person possesses.

6. Meritocracy

Meritocracy refers to technical competencies and how to evaluate the performance of each person. The personnel should not be selected according to the personal preferences of the recruiters.

Also in terms of skills, each organization can promote the development of each employee’s skills in relation to the demands of the position to which this belongs. Thus, many companies offer training in certain areas to then adjust the performance evaluation and raise the level of competitiveness.

7. Administration

The administration should be seen as an organization outside the rest but articulating and coordinating the entire company. Thus, the administration can be subdivided into different areas, sectors, etc. Not enough each sector works for the optimization of human and material resources.

8. Professionalization of its members

At this point, each company will look for trained personnel in all areas. This specialization must be previously acquired by employees. However, the companies encourage and stimulate mainly the constant specialization of its members since this generates a differentiation and greater competitiveness, in relation to its direct and indirect competitors.

9. Performance forecast

This point refers to the need to foresee the actions of human beings in order to avoid internal and external conflicts. At this point it is important the measures that each company takes, but it is also of great importance to take into account the personality of each of the employees.

10 Characteristics Of Bureaucracy - What is bureaucracy?

10. Critics

Currently there are many companies in the private and public sector that continue to implement Weber’s bureaucratic theory. However, this theory has been criticized the following failures:


The procedures are too organized and systematized that, often, they become slow and lose effectiveness.
The impersonality of the operations makes us suppose that each company does not deal with the needs or urgencies of people, but rather, it is dealing with cases, documents, archives, but forgets the qualitative aspect. That is, forget the true objective of any company: satisfy a need or solve a problem to the public or consumer.

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