Understanding the Dysfunctions of Bureaucratic Structures Essay

Administrations are tremendously composite systems. As one observes them look to be poised of human activities on assorted different degrees of survey. Personalities, inter groups, little group, imposts, attitudes, values all appear to be in an exceptionally complex multidimensional lineation. Groups subsist in all administrations and are critical to their public presentation and working. Groups and Individuals act together within the construction of the formal administration. Structure is produced by direction to establish relationships between groups and persons, to supply order and systems and to direct the attempts of the administration into target-seeking activities. Peoples carry out their organizational public presentation in order to carry through purposes and aims through formal construction. Behaviour is affected by theoretical accounts of administration construction, manners of leading, engineering, and systems of direction through which organizational procedures are planned, directed and controlled.According to Senior and Fleming “ One of the best-known signifiers or administration construction is the bureaucratic signifier ” .


Bureaucracy is defined by Gouldner as “ a hierarchal division of staff who act on formal assignments ” ( Gouldner, 1954 as quoted in K. Srinivasan & A ; Raka 2006 ) . Following definition suggests five specific dimensions of bureaucratism viz. hierarchal construction, determination devising, procedural devices, nature of work, and procedural constrictions have been measured in this order to grok the operation of bureaucratism. These factors are preponderantly appropriate to the apprehension of bureaucratic operation as indicated by old surveies that the magnitude of these properties differs from one administration to another.Functional complexnesss of any bureaucratic system mostly rely upon the mixture of these properties.

For case, Hall as quoted in { K. Srinivasan and Raka ( 2006 ) } observed that definite organizational activities are associated to one or more of the above mentioned dimensions. Properties such as hierarchal construction, division of labor and the type of determination devising have been found to be closely correlated with one another. In the same manner Lindblom { as quoted in K. Srinivasan and Raka ( 2006 ) } concluded that the pick of ends and appropriate agencies are by and large interwoven. Good policy can be formulated when determination shapers discover themselves in understanding.

Meyers happening have publicized that the nature of work and decision-making places determines the nature of planning. Assorted surveies have note that complexness of regulations and processs extremely affect bureaucratic efficiency.


Following instance survey purposes to set up the construction, working and disfunctions of bureaucratic construction in wellness attention administration by taking direction issue in a Radiography section.

Brenda Smith ( BS ) is the caput of section and Dennis Edwards ( DE ) is her deputy. . The organizational construction of the section is a conventional hierarchy, with BS and DE at the top and with a staff of 36 radiographers, proficient, scientific, and administrative staff at different degrees representing a typical bureaucratic construction. BS is a ‘strong personality ‘ and is known by many as an bossy control is a strong protagonist in clear lines of duty. She has introduced plentifulness of written processs in the last three old ages and anticipates everyone to attach to them purely. She disagrees that, as the section continues to develop, the demand for formal regulations and processs will go even more of import and that they can non afford to be informal and sloppy in the running of the service. BS insist that senior staff summarise advancement studies and submit formal studies to her on a hebdomadal footing. In add-on, staffs are expected to go extremely specialised in order to guarantee a high grade of competency. BS aims to supply efficient and impersonal regulations. Here the section represents typical features of bureaucratism. However, Max Weber defined and expanded the significance and so maintained that it was the lone effectual manner to form the work.

The Weber ‘s theoretical account of bureaucratism is characterised as an ideal typical theoretical account suggested the coveted characteristics of bureaucratic construction on the footing of figure of properties.

Max Weber found four major properties of bureaucratism that marked it out for its advantages. They are efficiency, predictability, impersonality and velocity. As an ideal type, it could possess all those properties and possibly more, at one point of clip or all times.

The chief features of bureaucratism harmonizing to Wb are:

Fixed jurisdictional countries, countries, ordered by regulations and ordinances.

Regular activities required for the intents of bureaucratism are distributed as official responsibilities.

Authority to give bids required for discharge of these responsibilities is distributed in a stable manner.

Procedure is present for the regular and uninterrupted fulfillment of these responsibilities ( i.e. a replacing program for each place ) , and merely individuals qualified are employed ( oxford University Press, 1946 ) .

Similarly the four chief characteristics of bureaucratism are summarised by Stewart as specialization, hierarchy of authorization, System of regulations, and impersonality.

Specialization applies more to the occupation than to the individual set abouting the occupation.

Hierarchy of authorization makes for a crisp differentiation between decision makers and the administered or between direction and workers. Within the direction ranks there are clearly defined degrees of authorization.

System of regulations purposes to supply for an efficient and impersonal operation. The system of regulations is by and large stable. Knowledge of the regulations is a necessity of keeping a occupation in a bureaucratism.

Impersonality means that allotment of privileges and the exercising of authorization should non be arbitrary, but in conformity with the laid down regulations. Stewart sees the features of impersonality as the characteristic of bureaucratism which most distinguishes it from other types of administrations. A bureaucratism should non be impersonal but seen to be impersonal ( Mullins 2005, p 74-5 ) .

An chance to offer for freshly available financess from authorities was missed because BS has instigated a system whereby her written blessing was required before any such commands could be submitted. She was off at a conference at the important clip and an of import chance was lost.

Second, two senior doctors in the infirmary have late expressed their dissatisfaction with some facets of work of the section and phoned to demand to ‘speak to person with authorization ‘ . The message was left on BS ‘s desk because no 1 felt confident plenty to react straight ( in BS ‘s absence ) without put on the lining her displeasure and once more a slow response became a job. The disgruntled doctor were angry about the slow response to their ailments and have taken the affair up with the infirmary ‘s main executive and are now take a firm standing that in future they wish to utilize the services of a private supplier instead than utilize the infirmary ‘s ‘hopeless ‘ skiagraphy section.

Numerous disfunctions can be noted and consequences from this typical bureaucratic skiagraphy section, including an overemphasis on specialized undertakings, everyday operating regulations, and formal processs of direction. Department is characterized by legion ordinances, formal communications, centralised determination devising and crisp differentiations among decision makers and staff, deficiency of duty among the staff. Here regulations are used to cut down the visibleness of power dealingss, the demand for close supervising, and the degree of interpersonal tenseness and struggle. Alternatively by specifying minimally acceptable behavior, regulations frequently inspire less than optimum employee public presentation, taking to increased personal supervising, more seeable power dealingss, increased interpersonal struggle and end supplanting. While bureaucratic behavior might bring forth stableness, it besides creates a dependent relationship between disposal and staff and eliminates flexibleness, creativeness, productivity and work. Communication jobs are exacerbated. The complexness and professional discretion involved in running healthcare administration require an attack that maximizes staff ability and foster originative job work outing. There are tonss of disadvantages in this typical bureaucratic construction of the section and can be stated. First theoretically, we can get down with Wb ‘s construct of bureaucratism. Weber ‘s construct of bureaucratism has a figure of disadvantages and has been capable to terrible unfavorable judgments.

The over accent on regulations and processs, record maintaining and paper work may go more of import in its ain right than as a agency to an terminal.

Officials may develop a dependance upon bureaucratic position, symbols and regulations.

Enterprise may be stifled and when a state of affairs is non covered by a complete set of regulations or processs there may be a deficiency of flexibleness or version to altering fortunes.

Position and duties in the administration can take to interfering bureaucratic behavior. They may besides be a inclination to hide administrative processs from foreigners.

Impersonal dealingss can take to pigeonhole behavior and a deficiency of reactivity to single incidents or jobs.

One of the strongest critics of bureaucratic administration, and the demands it makes on the worker, is Argyris. Argyris claims that bureaucratic administration restricts psychological growing of the person and cause feelings of failure, defeat and struggle. Argyris suggests that the organizational environment should supply:

A important grade of duty and control

Committedness to the ends of the administration

Productiveness and work

And an chance for persons to use their full abilities.

A similar unfavorable judgment is made by Caulkin, who refers to the impersonal construction of bureaucratism as constructed round the station instead than the individual and the easiness with which it can be swung behind unsocial or even pathological terminals. The over accent on procedure instead than aim, disconnected duties and hierarchal control means that it ‘s all excessively easy for persons to pretermit the larger intents to which their little attempt is being put.

The growing of bureaucratism has come about the increasing size and complexness of administrations and the associated demand for effectual disposal. The work of the classical authors has given accent to the careful design and planning of administration construction and the definition of single responsibilities and duties. Effective administration is based on construction and deputation through different beds of the hierarchy. Bureaucracy is founded on a formal, clearly defined and hierarchal construction. However, with rapid alterations in external environment, de-layering of administration, authorization, and the greater attending to run intoing the demands of clients, there is an increasing demand to organize flexibleness ( Mullins 2005, 75-6 ) .

Although no other signifier of societal administration has been found to be more efficient in the long tally, Weber recognized his theoretical account histories for lone portion of the characters of bureaucratism. They besides have a dark side, and do non ever run swimmingly. Let ‘s expression at some of the chief bureaucratic disfunctions that can be summarised from the above instance study like-red tape ( A Rule is a Rule ) , deficiency of communicating, disaffection, end supplanting, bureaucratic incompetency and Empowerment.

Red Tape: A regulation Is a Rule

Here BS is really acute on the regulations and really much specific to further reenforce the regulations, BS ‘s position is that the section ‘s processs and people ‘s functions and lines of duty need to be perfectly clear. Rules here are seen to cut down power dealingss, cut down the demand of close supervising, and cut down the degree of interpersonal tenseness and struggle. However regulations tend to specify minimal acceptable behavior. Specifying minimal behavior frequently leads to less than optimum public presentation on the portion of employees, and this in bend leads to an addition in personal supervising, the really status that the regulations were intended to extinguish ( Abbott & A ; Caracheo, 1988 as cited in Duttweiler, Patricia, 1988 ) .

The addition in intimacy of supervising leads to an addition in visibleness of power dealingss, which leads in bend to an addition in the degree of interpersonal tenseness and struggle. In add-on, attachment to regulations besides leads to rigidity on the portion of decision makers and employees.

Rules take an aura of irresistible impulse, they become inviolable – they are to be followed, non questioned. What were intended to be agencies becomes terminals, and unquestioning conformity with regulations instead than their wise enforcement go the norm. Too frequently regulations are substituted for personal opinion. They tend to deter originative attempts in reacting to jobs, to warrant minimum public presentation, and to bring forth apathy ( Anderson, 1969 as cited in Duttweiler, Patricia, 1988 ) .

It is observed that the organizational set-up of this section is conventional hierarchy and it comprises of a centralised system. The deputation of power is absent, so the Department lost an chance for the authorities financess. At the person ( or personal ) degree deputation is the procedure of intrusting authorization and duty to others throughout the assorted degrees of the administration. It is the mandate to set about activities that would otherwise be carried out by person in a more senior place in the section. It is arguably to hold deputation upwards-when a director is temporarily takes over the work of a subsidiary who is absent. It is besides possible to depute laterally to another director on the same degree ( Mullins 2005 p 850-3 ) .

Lack of Communication in the Unit of measurements:

Each unit within a bureaucratism performs specialised undertakings, which are designed to lend to the administration ‘s overall ends. At times, these units fail to pass on with one another and stop up working at cross intents. Bureaucratic construction has a inclination to blockade communicating. This allows jobs to intensify and ‘solutions ‘ to develop that are non ever the most effectual. Information does non flux freely and easy throughout the system. In most instances, there are no mechanisms in topographic point to describe jobs to higher-ups. Peoples who systematically call higher-ups attendings to jobs are accused of being “ malcontents ” , of being “ disloyal ” , or of “ swaying the boats ” . The consequence of this is that of import information is often withheld.

Frequently when jobs are reported the implicit in causes are non addressed. The information that is passed upwards is screened by consecutive beds in the hierarchy in order to protect the vested involvements of those relaying it. Therefore, information needed to do appropriate determinations is frequently losing. Problems go undetected until they assume major proportions because subsidiaries are discouraged from placing the beginnings.

Hierarchical authorization allows decision makers to curtail the possible solutions and attacks to those they feel competent in utilizing. This frequently consequences in determinations of lowered quality in faulty job resolution, and a normative construction that the position quo ( Bradford & A ; Cohen, 1984 as cited in Duttweiler, Patricia, 1988 ) .

In add-on traditional bureaucratic directors like BS, who maintain control over all determinations and activities decrease the duty felt by subsidiaries for the success or failure of any attempt. Staff abilities and voices are gone neglected or underutilised resulting in lowered staff motive.

Bureaucratic Alienation:

Alienation refers to the withdrawal of the individual from his or her work. Many workers find it upseting to cover with others in footings of functions, regulations and maps instead than as persons. Similarly, they may dislike composing memos alternatively of speaking to people face to face. It is non surprising so that workers in big administrations sometimes feel more like objects than people or as Weber ( 1978 ) put it, “ merely a little cog in a endlessly traveling mechanism which prescribes to ( them ) an infinitely fixed modus operandi ” . Because workers must cover with one another in such formal ways, and because they invariably perform everyday undertakings, some come to experience that no 1 cares about them and that they are misfits in their milieus. A figure of staff under BS are experiencing progressively disgruntled about what they see as petit larceny regulations, changeless ‘form filling ‘ and a deficiency of liberty in the manner they plan and present their work. Most staff is extremely qualified and many of them have many old ages ‘ experience in skiagraphy and related services in other infirmaries, they feel that their expertness is non recognised by senior direction ( i.e. BS & A ; DE ) . Morale is lower than it was 3 old ages ago when BS was appointed, absenteeism has become a job and several cardinal members of staff say they are occupation hunting.

Marx termed these reactions disaffection and attributed them to the fact that workers are cut off from the finished merchandise of their labor. Although delegating workers to repetitive undertakings makes for efficient production, Marx argued that it besides reduces their satisfaction by restricting their creativeness and sense of part to the finished undertaking. Underliing disaffection is the ‘workers ‘ loss of control over their work because they no longer have their ain tools.

The traditional administrative official like BS does non take enterprise, will non make anything for the administration beyond what he or she is perfectly required to make and utilize regulations to warrant making every bit small as possible.

Alienation, of class, is non a pleasant experience. Because workers want to experience valued and want to hold a sense of control over their work, they resist disaffection. In malice of hapless attitude and public presentation, some anomic workers frequently retain their occupations, some are occupation hunting, either because they may hold senior status, or cognize the written regulations rearward and frontward, or threaten expensive, time-consuming, or abashing legal action if anyone tries to fire them. Some anomic workers are shunted off into little bureaucratic corners, where they do fiddling undertakings and have small opportunity of coming in contact with the populace. This intervention, of class, merely alienates them further.

Goal Supplanting:

Goals have been defined by Simons as value premises which serve as inputs to determinations. In add-on to executing some map, all administrations besides have some inducement for their being, and for their operations. The ends of an administration are the ground for its being. The activities of the administrations are directed to the attainment of its ends. A end is a future outlook, some coveted future province. It is something the administration is endeavoring to carry through.

The construct of organizational ends is more specific than that of the map of an administration. The ends of an administration will find the nature of its inputs and end products, the series of activities through which the end products are achieved, and interactions with its external environment. The extent to which an administration is successful in achieving its ends is a footing for the rating of organizational public presentation and effectivity.

Goals are hence an of import characteristic of work administrations. To be effectual ends should be emphasised, stated clearly and communicated to all members of the administration. Survival of the administration depends upon its ability to accommodate to alterations and to the demands of its external environment. Committedness to the aims and policies of the administration, people ‘s cognitive restrictions and their uncertainnesss and frights, may intend a reluctance to accept alteration. Administrations may besides happen it hard to do short-run, rapid alterations in resource allotment. The really complexness of environmental influences may itself impede rapid alteration. It is of import, nevertheless, that the administration does non curtail invention but is ready to react positively to altering fortunes and, progressively, to expect future alteration. Management has to equilibrate the demands for adaptability in run intoing the challenges and chances presented by alteration with, at the same clip, continuing an ambiance of stableness and continuity in the involvements of members of the administration ( Mullins 2005 p145-6-9 ) .

Bureaucratic Incompetence:

In an analysis of bureaucratisms, Laurence Peter proposed what has become known as the Peter Principle: In a hierarchy every employee tends to lift to their degree of incompetency ( Peter and Hull 1970, Mullins 2005 p40 ) . Peoples who perform good in a bureaucratism come to the attending of those higher up the concatenation of bid and are promoted. If they once more perform good, they are once more promoted. This procedure continues until eventually they are promoted to a degree at which they can no longer manage the duties good ; this is their degree of incompetency. There they hide behind the work of others, taking recognition for what those under their way accomplish. Although the Peter Principle contains a grain of truth, if it were by and large true, bureaucratisms would be staffed wholly by incompetents like BS, and none of these administrations could win.

A serious mistake was made refering the manner in which some patients were treated and ailments have been made to the local Television station and local imperativeness: some harm to the section ‘s repute is likely to follow. One of the senior members of staff has ‘blamed ‘ the administrative supervisor for the mistake but the supervisor insists that all processs were purely followed and that the mistake was non his mistake.

Harmonizing to Cloke and Goldsmith, direction and bureaucratism can be thought of as somersault sides of the same coin here. Bureaucracies provide a safe Eden where directors can conceal from duty and avoid being held accountable for mistakes of opinion or jobs they created or failed to work out ( Mullins 2005 P 77 ) .

There is deficiency of Empowerment in the section. Empowerment by and large explained in footings of leting employees greater freedom, liberty and self-denial over their work, and duty for decision-making. Empowerment says that employees at all degrees of an administration are responsible for their ain actions and should be given authorization to do determinations about their work. Its popularity has been driven by the demand to react rapidly to client demands, to develop cross-functional links to take advantage of chances that are excessively local or excessively fugitive to be determined centrally. Better morale and compensation for limited calling waies are other advantages. Potential troubles include the range of pandemonium and struggle, a deficiency of lucidity about where duty lies, the dislocation of hierarchal control, and demoralisation on the portion of those who do non desire extra authorization. Successful authorization will typically necessitate feedback on public presentation from a assortment of beginnings, wagess with some group constituent, an environment which is tolerant of errors, widely distributed information, and Renaissance man directors and employees. The paradox is that the greater the demand for authorization in an administration, the less likeliness of success. It has to be allowed to develop over clip through the beliefs/attitudes of participants ( Mullins, pg. 860-3 ) .

In decision, different degrees of directors should hold different functional duties but they are supposed to move in co-ordination. That is the senior degree officer ‘s should be free to accept their junior sentiments with unfastened communicating or take determinations over siting them. Here, co-ordination becomes the basic ingredient of an efficient bureaucratism. The sense of impotence and attendant deficiency of duty found among the junior staff seemingly affected the overall operation of the administration. The important development of communicating and Empowerment between the Head of Department and the staff will ensue in higher public presentation. The importance of deputation is to be kept in head. However, it is executable to believe that administrations can invariably reconstitute as their environments move and alteration. Redesigning an administration ‘s construction has to be carefully planned with alteration taking topographic point as current concern public presentation has to be sustained. This implies a mixture of incremental and transformational alteration.