Bureaucracy - Term Overview

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Bureaucracy is an organizational system characterized by processes that can be centralized or decentralized, division of responsibilities, specialization, hierarchy, and impersonal relationships.

This concept is related to government institutions. Through the bureaucracy, it's not only sought to achieve a series of objectives, but it's also intended that these goals be achieved in the most efficient way possible.

The term bureaucracy comes from the French "bureaucratie", and in turn this comes from bureau (office or desk) and -cratie, (-cracia, which means government).

Characteristics of the bureaucracy

These are the characteristic features of the bureaucratic system:

- The rules are set out in writing in advance.
- The positions are clearly defined.
- Job security and promotion possibilities.
- Division of labour.
- Hierarchy of authority: A chain of command is recognized.
- Procedures and routines or daily tasks are standardized.

Disadvantages of bureaucracy

The bureaucracy is often criticized, due to a series of drawbacks such as those mentioned below:

- Rigidity in decision making. Everything must be done according to the regulations.
- Slowness in the processes. Due to its rigidity, the processes are slow and inflexible.
- It can lead to situations of nepotism or corruption.
- The decision-making power is held by whoever holds the highest rank, not whoever is the most capable or the best qualified.
- The opinions of those who disagree aren't taken into account.
- Rules can be created that are contradictory to each other.
- Belief that the system is perfect, little self-criticism.

Advantages of bureaucracy

Despite its drawbacks, a bureaucratic system has the following advantages:

- Adequate performance in the workplace.
- The positions and tasks are well defined.
- Responsibilities are well defined, which avoids conflicts between the people who make up the organization.
- Predictability: everything unfolds according to the rules.
- Decisions will be made quickly.
- Meritocracy, that is, there will be a selection based on ability and competence.

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