Bureaucracy

organisational development change management

. This model relies upon standardisation of work processes for coordination and control. It is characterised by a highly routine operating task achieved through specialisation, very formalised rules and regulations, tasks being grouped into functional departments, centralised authority, narrow spans of control, and decision-making that follows the chain of command.

. Its main strength lies in its ability to perform standardised activities in a highly efficient manner, such as putting specialties together in functional departments which result in economies of scale, minimal duplication of personnel and equipment, and the grouping together of like-minded staff.

. The many rules and regulations substitute for managerial discretion. Standardised operations coupled with high formalisation allow decision-making to be centralised. There is little room for innovation by experienced decision-makers below the senior level.

. A major drawback is that specialisation creates sub-unit conflicts where functional unit goals over-ride the overall goals of the organisation.

. Associated with this design is the obsessive concern with following rules, at all times. There is little or no room for modification. It has been argued that this structure cannot respond rapidly to change and hinders staff initiative. To counter these weaknesses, the span of control can be widened, authority can become more decentralised, and the functional departments can be supplemented with the increased use of teams. An alternative approach is to segment into smaller, fully functional mini bureaucracies of between 150 to 250 people.

 

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