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Bureaucracy Observed

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Bureaucracy Observed (An Experience-Based Analysis)

(An Experience-Based Analysis)

Joshua A Ward

University of Maryland University College

Author’s Note
This paper was prepared for MGMT 610 9045 Organizational Theory (2615), taught by Professor Matthews.

According to German sociologist, political economist, administrative scholar, and historian Max Weber, bureaucracy is “a particular type of administrative structure developed through rational legal authority.” (Swanson, 2013) His six major principles have formed the foundation for understanding bureaucracy since their inception. They include the idea that a bureaucracy must consist of a formal hierarchical structure, i.e., each level controls the level below it and is controlled by the level above. Organization by functional specialty is key, work must be performed by specialists, and those specialists are organized into units based on the type of work they do of the skills they possess. Bureaucracy is purposely impersonal, with the major idea being that all employees and customers must and should be treated equally, with no organizational decision influenced or based on individual differences. Also, employment in a bureaucracy should be based primarily on technical qualifications, with the most consideration given to a potential employee who is most qualified, once again, without any consideration given to personal preference.
From personal experience, the United States military is a prime example of bureaucracy in action, in which every level of the military is controlled by the level above it. Every enlisted member, every officer, every civilian contractor, all of them answer to someone else, and those with even a modicum of power relish in their control of those below them. This hierarchy allows the military to function reasonably well in any situation, from the boredom of peacetime paperwork to...

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