What do you think of when you hear the word “bureaucracy”?What do you think of when you hear the word “bureaucracy”? Many people associate the term with red tape, inefficiency, and waste.

What do you think of when you hear the word “bureaucracy”?What do you think of when you hear the word “bureaucracy”? Many people associate the term with red tape, inefficiency, and waste.

What do you think of when you hear the word “bureaucracy”? Many people associate the term with red tape, inefficiency, and waste. In short, bureaucracy is often viewed very negatively.

While it is now frequently used as a derogatory term, bureaucracies were developed originally to make the government more efficient. To understand how bureaucracy would enable the government, it is necessary to define clearly what we mean by a bureaucracy.

Following are the four characteristics of bureaucracies:

A division of labor or specialization
Systems for recruitment and advancement of workers
Hierarchical structure
Written sets of rules and procedures
Bureaucracy and Efficiency Specialization Specialization increases efficiency by reducing the range of tasks that workers do. Basically, this is an extension of the logic of markets to organizations.

In the market theory, people should do what they do best and then exchange their goods or services with other people who also specialize in what they do best. In government, this means creating agencies that deal with specific topics, such as education, health care, or public safety.

Within each of these specializations, agencies are created that deal with even more narrow tasks. For example, within education, the tasks of teacher training, teaching, curriculum development, and assessment of learning are typically delegated to specialized organizations. All these specializations are intended to improve efficiency.

Click the Next button to learn how bureaucracy relates to the next characteristic.

Systems of Recruitment and Advancement Of Workers The specialization within organizations becomes incorporated into the second feature of bureaucracies — their systems for recruiting and advancing workers. Workers can then be selected for organizations based on their ability to do specific tasks. The workers who are most efficient at a task will be hired, that is at least in theory.

Click the Next button to learn how bureaucracy relates to the next characteristic.

Hierarchical Structure The third characteristic of bureaucracy, hierarchy, is supposed to promote efficiency in two ways. First, it is intended to motivate people to work harder to gain promotions within the organization. Second, it is also supposed to give the most important tasks to the most effective workers.

Click the Next button to learn how bureaucracy relates to the next characteristic.

Rules And Procedures Rules and procedures are needed to specify what tasks should be done, how, and by whom. The rules and procedures spell out the division of labor, recruitment processes, and the hierarchical structure of each bureaucracy.

Bureaucracies were developed to promote efficiency. However, while the bureaucratic organizational structure was designed to promote efficiency, that is not the only goal of policy. We also have an interest in developing the goals of security, liberty, and equity. Let us think about the goals of security within a bureaucracy first.

An example of addressing a security goal within an organization, including within a bureaucracy, is to provide for security at the workplace for battered and formerly battered women. This is an important security goal that is receiving more attention than it has in the past.

To understand the need for the security of women at the workplace, consider the following facts:

The Bureau of National Affairs estimates that domestic violence costs businesses $3–5 billion each year (A Catalyst for Change, 2007).

74% of employed battered women are harassed at work by their abusive partners (Friedman & Cooper, 1987).

44% of Fortune 1000 executives believe domestic violence increases insurance costs (Addressing Domestic Violence, 1994).

One fourth of business absenteeism and excessive use of medical benefits are believed to be the result of family violence (Friedman & Cooper, 1987).

As you can see from these figures, domestic violence is a serious security concern for battered and formerly battered women and their co-workers at the workplace. You should also see how workers’ security directly relates to the goal of efficiency.


 

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