The Effects of Bureaucracy on Organization Efficiency

Bureaucracy may be defined as a specialized strategic system and process that ensures power from the top trickles down. Bureaucracy maintains a kind of authoritative uniformity within an organization (Adler, 2012). For instance, Top managers appoint the subordinate staff while individual staffs compete for promotion. Bureaucratic leadership and processes have been the most common in government and large organizations when it comes to administering formal rules of internal behavior.

For example, many oil companies establish bureaucratic strategies set at the top management that compel its employees to complete safety checks when operating. Over 150 years bureaucracy seemed to be good for business, and as if it supports efficiency in every large organization, however, bureaucracy is very simple and scalable but has virtually unchallenged features that disable and paralyzes organizations operation.

As such, this paper will look into how managers should think of more creative ways of maintaining competitive success. It will critically analyze how bureaucracy has failed in supporting efficiency operation in organizations by underweighting new thinking that facilitates building and nurturing deep, hard-to-replicate skills that hasten growth. In a nutshell, bureaucracy misallocates power when running an organization from a top-down management position in today’s competitive environment.

Bureaucracy discourages rebel and change-oriented employees while on the other hand, it encourages only a small number of seasoned top executives who may fail to write off their depreciating intellectual capabilities to run the organization efficiently. This may facilitate Soviet-style centralization and this, by all means, is the enemy of progress if the entire top management is unwilling to adapt and learn, the entire organization growth deteriorates (Murphy, 2009).

Bureaucracy concentrates the responsibility for setting strategies and direction at the top management this allows only a few top leaders to become the key drivers of change this slows down growth because only those top leaders who are willing to adopt creative and innovative ideas will steer up growth and change.

Research shows bureaucracy is still important to some government and large organizations today. However, the 150-year old military command structure ought to be replaced with other alternatives, for instance, mixed approach, flat or organic that may not affect organizational behavior like the bureaucratic approach. Moreover, bureaucracy is tinted with the negative association which may be considered inefficient this is because in a bureaucracy, even the top executives in these organizations do not come into office through democratic election because promotion solely depends on the top management decisions that may be biased. 

A bureaucracy originates from the push to run organization through closed-door frameworks and system. As such, formal and rigid rules set up the framework that is to be used to maintain order. In a nutshell, procedural rightness is held in high respect inside a bureaucracy. Maybe the absolute most identifiable normal for a bureaucracy is the utilization of various leveled techniques to streamline or replace self-sufficient choices.

This implies that a normal civil servant in top position makes verifiable assumptions around an association and the world with which it cooperates. One of these presumptions is the association can’t depend on open management system of operations, which is either excessively complex or too questionable to survive.

Rather, a closed and judiciously explored framework ought to be actualized and followed. As a result, bureaucratic structures tend to be redundant and dependant on methods that worked out admirably previously. This creates divisions and disagreements between employees with conflicting ideas on development and ways to achieve set organizational goals. Consequently, bureaucracy makes it difficult for organization around the world to fire poor performers because of an arduous termination process associated with the bureaucratic approach.

Manager’s main duty is to ensure conformance to international standards in regards to corporate policies, product specifications, quality standards, deadlines, budgets, and work rules. In 19 century about 60 years ago Max Weber a German sociologist came up with the bureaucratic theory of management also known as Max Weber theory. To him, the bureaucratic approach was an efficient and effective way to set up a government administration and organizations.

Max Weber believed that in a bureaucracy, there is no element of favoritism because everyone is treated equally. Moreover, this approach had the division of labor clearly described for each employee unlike in the traditional structures. To some extent, he was right since bureaucracy may be termed as the technology of control.

Nonetheless, it is practically and ideologically opposed to irregularities and disorder (Singh, 2013). In the 21st century which is the information age characterized by discontinuity, it is evident that the random people with irregular ideas are the one who creates different business models that generate significant returns compared to bureaucracy. In this condition, control is a fundamental but a long way from adequate essential for progress and success.

Bureaucracy differs significantly from governance or administration. Dr. Ronald E. Riggio in his recent blog post described administrative structures that are bureaucratic as governed by rules not results and this fact cripple progress in many bureaucratic organizations (Yang, 2008). Bureaucracies often exist to ensure there is a specific procedural structure followed, despite the structure influencing the achievement of the set goals negatively.

Max Weber, bureaucratic management approach, has some faults that research has analyzed and criticized deeply. The following are evident faults and are a disadvantage to the organization using this approach.

  •   Bureaucratic management approach focuses on rules, regulations and not results.

  •   Formalities and rules followed in any Bureaucratic Organization create unnecessary delay in the decision-making process.

  •   The chain of command from the top down negatively affects communication in the organization because of too many regulations and rules.

  •   Use of a lot of paperwork in the 21st century may be termed as a waste of money, time and effort. This too much level of authority results in inefficiency in the organizations. 

  •   Because of its too much rules and regulations, Max Weber bureaucratic management approach is not appropriate for business organizations. However, this model may be ideal for government institutions.

  •   Bureaucratic management approach undermines the dedication and commitment of the employee; on the other hand, it gives importance to the technical qualifications of the employees for promotion and transfers. 

  •   There is no importance of the Human Resource (HR) in bureaucratic management approach since decisions are made by the top management. 

From research, it is clearly evident that the Max Weber’s bureaucratic approach only helped the traditional administrative to solve their problems. Moreover, many articles on the same believe the approach is not perfect or close to the management solutions in today’s organizations since all importance and authority lies at the top management.

The Effects of Bureaucracy on Customers and Employees

Some organizations have shown symptoms that are destructive to the relationship between customers and employees. This is often described as “bureaucracy.” The following are effects of bureaucracy in regards to negatively affecting the behaviors, attitudes, and decisions of both customers and employees.

  • It is evident that when an organization is governed by too many rules and regulations the customers tend to call the organization “bureaucratic.” This influences their purchase behaviors of customers negatively towards the organizations products and services negatively.

  • Any organization policies that don’t satisfy the customer needs and employees emphasis that the policy is the same for all customers leads to customers describing the organization as “bureaucratic, ” and this adversely affects business.

  • The bureaucratic organization has set standard policies, procedures, and practices that discriminate customers and favour only the organization. Customers feel discriminated and often describe the organizations as Bureaucratic, and the set rules are a disadvantage to the customers.

  • Rigid regulations and rules that make it difficult for both employees and customers to meet their expectations make them think of the organization as bureaucratic. 

  • The bureaucratic approach is like “uncaring” For instance, the customer complaints are treated more like tedious processes than individuals needs.

  • Most bureaucratic organizations are unwilling to admit their mistakes and in most cases they tend to blame to the customer for their own mistake and this greatly affect business operation.

  • Research shows bureaucratic are reluctant to change since rules and regulations dictate what is to be done. Consequently, bureaucratic organizations are slow to innovate and this affects completion.

  • The bureaucratic structures are often characterized by offering products and services of inferior quality compared to their competitors who are non-bureaucratic.

  • Strict rules and regulations that lead to customer’s lack of access to important services because of such things like company hours affect business and this is associated with the bureaucratic approach. 

  • Bureaucracy is frequently characterized as being arrogant to customers who render their services. 

The following are characteristics of bureaucracy organization operation that adversely affects customers.

  1. The slow process when customer’s calls are transferred around many times. 

  2. Employees are not motivated and only follow the strict rules like robots. They are often not positive about the organization and are unhappy with the rules and regulations that affect smooth business operations. 

  3. In many Bureaucratic organizations, employees are less fascinated by the organization’s products or services.

  4. Employees are strictly guided, and this makes them unfriendly to customers. The impression portrayed after following the rules is that they don’t care if the customer is satisfied or not.

The following are adverse effects of bureaucracy inside the organization. The employees in these organizations have to live with very negative by-products of the bureaucratic management. The following examples are frequently mentioned by employees who think their organization is bureaucratic.

  • Division of labor is distinct, and every individual department has its agenda. In a nutshell, bureaucracy approaches don’t allow departments to cooperate or help each other. 

  • The head of department’s priorities is protecting the department; its employees and the budget instead of striving achieve the organization’s set goals.

  • Frequent quarrels are evident, and this is for the sake of executive’s personal promotion and power. 

  • Subordinates staff Ideas are turned down because they come from the wrong chain of decision-making process while less brilliant Ideas are supported because of the top position of the person tabling them. 

  • Employees term promotions as an unfair process based on politics instead of democracy in regards to actual achievements on the job done.

  • Top managers are given too much authority that is dangerous if they are ill-informed and somehow not aware of may be happening on the front lines.

  • Poor organization communication since important information is kept as secret and used as the basis of maintaining power.

  • Excessive use of paperwork facilitates distorting of selected data to fake performance while the reality is the organization may not be performing.

  • Communication from to executive to subordinates is biased and distorted to reflect what the leaders want the organization to be rather than what it is.

In conclusion, bureaucracy, as portrayed by intensive research, is a collection of negative forces, actions, and attitudes that affect customers and employees by damaging the customer and employee satisfaction intent by many organizations. Moreover, bureaucracy weakens employee morale and commitment to do their best (Sturdy, 2016).

This, in turn, affects the performance of the organization negatively. Bureaucracy is adversely affecting organizational effectiveness mainly because of the strict rules and regulations that divide people within the organization and as a result turn against each other instead of cooperating to achieve the set goals. Bureaucracy approach leads to the misdirected energy of employees into unnecessary conflict and competition with each other instead of striving to achieve the set goals.

In a nutshell, the bureaucracy approach has failed terribly in supporting efficiency operation in organizations because top leaders in most cases set meaningless bureaucratic goals that hinder the true progress of the organization. I believe the efficacy of each set goal should be more important and highly regarded as compared to the rules and regulations that deter achievement of set organizational goals.

Bureaucracy at times overpowers the willingness of the employees to pursue and achieve a worthy goal. In this case, the strict rules and regulations force the employees to follow leaders whose drive mainly suits their interests and not the satisfaction of the customer and employees.

Reference List

  1. Adler, P.S., 2012. Perspective—the sociological ambivalence of bureaucracy: from Weber via Gouldner to Marx.

    Organization Science



    (1), pp.244-266.

  2. Murphy, M., 2009. Bureaucracy and its limits: accountability and rationality in higher education.

    British Journal of Sociology of Education



    (6), pp.683-695.

  3. Singh, P., 2013. Transforming traditional bureaucratic management practices by employing the Collegial Leadership Model of Emancipation.

    The International Business & Economics Research Journal (Online)



    (8), p.953.

  4. Sturdy, A., Wright, C. and Wylie, N., 2016. Managers as consultants: The hybridity and tensions of neo-bureaucratic management.




    (2), pp.184-205.

  5. Yang, P., 2008. A Review of:“Riggio, Ronald E. and Feldman, Robert S.(Eds.). APPLICATIONS OF NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION.” Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 2005, xv+ 285 pp., ISBN 0805843353.

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