One government structure that many nations adopt is bureaucracy. Although it exists, there are groups that criticize its efficacy and complexity. However, there are also those who see this as a rational and relevant way to run some government agencies.
What is Bureaucracy?
It is a form of administrative system used by both public and private institutions. Simply put, it is a government body that is composed of non-politicians but who are appointed to help in policy-making and be in charge of administrative tasks in government agencies.
In government, bureaucrats implement policies, write rules and regulations and administer them on people, among others. In organizations, bureaucracy structure is divided into different levels, from frontline employees up to the upper management. While there are countries doing well with this kind of structure, there are also groups not in favor of this system. Here are some of the views about this controversial issue:
List of Advantages of Bureaucracy
1. Central authority in bureaucracy makes it effective in organizing.
Advocates for bureaucracy have positive views on having hierarchy in an organization. They say that since there is a chain of command, there will be specific roles and tasks for people involved in the departments. This way, management will be able to monitor the performance of the people in lower ranks. Also, with strict regulations and policies that need to be observed, there is a big possibility that duties will be carried out in a systematic and timely manner. Following these set of rules before decision making ensures choices and steps are ideal and well selected.
2. It supports the hiring of specialized officials.
Supporters of bureaucracy prefer the idea of designating appointed officials who have the educational background and expertise on the agency they will assigned to. These bureaucrats also have the training and skills particular to their designation. This ensures these non-elective members know what they are doing and will be able to maximize their knowledge and apply their skills. As a result, tasks are effectively carried out. Another point proponents express in connection with officials having specialization is the possibility that there will always be solutions to issues since problems which cannot be handled by an officer will be escalated to an individual who is also competent.
3. It follows Standard Operating Procedure.
Proponents of bureaucracy look at these formalized rules to bring about efficiency and predictability in results. In this set-up, officials are to follow instructions and procedures step by step in handling tasks and situations. This way, outcomes will be within the specified range.
4. It sets no room for favoritism.
People in favor of bureaucracy claim that with the regulations and procedure to be followed in order to achieve results, the risks of favoring some individuals over others will be minimal if not none at all. A scenario mentioned is one of a student applying for a loan. There is a systematic process involved and certain requirements to be met to get an approval. With skipping a step or one of these requirements lacking, the process will not be able to move forward. With bureaucracy, all will be treated fairly and will undergo the same procedure regardless of affiliation to any of the officials in the particular agency.
5. It allows for merit-based hiring and promotion.
For a non-elective member of a government agency, he or she should be qualified and pass the qualifying exams to be employed or appointed as well as climb the hierarchy. This means that whoever is appointed has the knowledge, expertise and skills to handle the job. No one will be considered simply because he or she is a relative or a friend of a high-ranking official in the agency.
6. It plays an important role in policy making.
Although civil servants do not make policies, they gather the data forwarded to the political executive. They are also responsible for formulating several alternative policies and determine the pros and cons of each. In turn, the political executive will choose one policy which will then be used as an alternative.
List of Disadvantages of Bureaucracy
1. It can hamper achievement of results in time.
Critics are arguing that with the certain steps needed to carry out tasks and the need to follow a chain of command to proceed, lots of time can be lost especially if decisions and results are needed immediately. If a government is run by bureaucrats and there is a chain-of-command, a certain decision like military defense can result to unfavorable outcomes since an action cannot be carried out without different personalities or officials in the hierarchy have approved such. This makes the process slow, according to proponents.
2. It breeds boredom and can affect productivity.
Opponents are criticizing the repetitive tasks in specialized jobs. They claimed that in time, it can bore members of the organization or agency. They added that even in a business which uses bureaucracy, employees might not be able to withstand doing the same work daily. The routine might just be too much from them and may result to absenteeism and less productivity.
3. It results to passive and rule-based human beings.
Another disadvantage being pointed out by some people who do not like a bureaucratic structure say that the strict rules and regulations imposed in bureaucracies seem to remove the freedom of an individual to act and discern on his or her own because of certain restrictions. This, according to some, is not beneficial.
4. It can result to inefficiency.
In bureaucracy, there is less competition since hiring and promotion is based on merits and qualifications. Moreover, once a civil servant is appointed, he or she has a fixed salary, works on specialized tasks and cannot function outside the sphere of the department he or she belongs to. Some people see this as unproductive and a disadvantage because it can demoralize civil servants who belong in a bureaucracy.
A bureaucracy structure might be considered ineffective by critics but there are also valid arguments posited by supporters. Other countries run well with bureaucrats but there are also obvious flaws within the structure which make others critical about it. But the fact still remains, bureaucracy exists and is here to stay.