Student Name

Student Name : Tanyaradzwa Nigel Joni
Student Number : 219702128
Subject Name : SPA
Subject Code : 111/101
Assignment Topic : Discuss the importance of bureaucracy in public administration.
Assignment Due Date : 07 March 2018

Administrative Class 4
Hierarchy 4
Division Of Work 5
Official Rules 5
Impersonal Relationship 5
Official Record 6
Administration 7
Articulating interests 7
Policy-Advice 7
Assisting Public Representatives 7
Political Stability 7
Smriti Chand defined Max Weber’s bureaucracy is an administrative system designed to accomplish large-scale administrative tasks by systematically coordinating the work of many individuals ( . In public administration context, Max Weber defined bureaucracy as a hierarchical model which states that an organization should provide for a clear division of labor ;authority should be hierarchically structured ,that is classified according to ranks with authority assigned in increasing order from the lower levels to the higher levels ;rules and procedures should be applied rigidly and impartially by employees; and selection and promotion of employees should be based only on technical competence and performance (Public Administration and Management In South Africa quoted by Smit et al. 2011:496).
However, the bureaucratic model proposed by Max Weber (1864-1920) is not quoted to prove that it was indeed the most appropriate system for the early twentieth century public sector. But it merely explains the point that the era of expanded public services , it was and still is possible to use strictly defined hierarchical lines , clear lines of authority and adhere to rigidly prescribed organizational structure.

According to Ostrom 1974 , it states that the traditional model followed Weber’s work virtually to the letter. Weber argued that there that there were three types of authority namely, the traditional authority, the charismatic authority and the rational/legal authority. The traditional authority is the one such as the authority of a tribal chief, the charismatic authority is the one same as to the appeal of an extraordinary leader whilst the legal/rational authority is the one where a leader exercises power due to extraordinary qualities (Gerth and Mills,1970,pp78-80).
Weber’s theory of bureaucracy had six principles listed below;
A permanent, rule bound conduct of official business.
Technical competence of Bureaucrats.
The organisation should be based upon hierarchy.
The rules regulating the conduct of business should be technical and based on norms.
Complete separation of office property & personal property.
Complete absence of misuse of power & authority.
Complete absence of appropriation of official position by the incumbent.
formal & informal communication within the office.
Bureaucracy is inevitable in modern state. Its legal authority can be exercised in a variety of ways. (
In my own point of view these principles encouraged delegation, use of hierarchical organizational structures within the organizations, they also insisted that organizations should be separated from the lives of employees and training should be done to improve workers motivation. To conclude, Weber insisted a Bureaucracy from a purely technical point of view. The legal rational authority is exercised over human beings. Bureaucracy is stable, efficient & superior to all kinds of administrative tasks.
Features (Characteristics) Of Weber’s Bureaucracy
Administrative Class
Bureaucratic organizations generally have administrative class responsible for maintaining coordinative activities of the members.
Main Features of Administrative Class
i) People are paid and are whole time employees.
(ii) They receive salary and other perquisites normally based on their positions.
(iii) Their tenure in the organization is determined by the rules and regulations of the organization.
(iv) They do not have any proprietary interest in the organization.
(v) They are selected for the purpose of employment based on their competence.

Similarly, a subordinate will get authority from his immediate superior. However, this hierarchy is net unitary but sub-pyramids of officials within the large organization corresponding etc. functional divisions exist.
Thus, there are offices with the same amount of authority but with different kinds of functions operating in different areas of competence. For example, the Government organizations, we can observe separate offices looking after particular functions. This happens in business organizations too.
Division of work
Work of the organization is divided on the basis of specialization to take the advantages of division of labor. Each office in the bureaucratic organization has specific sphere of competence.
This involves:
(i) a sphere of obligations to perform functions which has been marked off as part of a systematic division of labour.
(ii) the provision of the incumbent with necessary authority to carry out these functions.
(iii) the necessary means of compulsion are clearly defined, and their use is subject to definite conditions.
Thus, division of labour try to ensure that each office has a clearly-defined area of competence within the organisation and each official knows the areas in which he operates and the areas in which he must abstain from action so that he does not overstep the boundary between his role and those of others. Further, division of labour also tries to ensure that no work is left uncovered.
Official Rules
A basic and most emphasized feature of bureaucratic organization is that administrative process is continuous and governed by official rules. Bureaucratic organization is the antithesis of ad hoc, temporary, and temporary and unstable relations. A rational approach to organization calls for a system of maintaining rules to ensure twin requirements of uniformity and coordination of efforts by individual members in the organization.
These rules are stable and exhaustive. When there is no rule on any aspect of organizational operation, the matter is referred upward for decision which subsequently becomes precedent for future decision on the similar matter. Rules provide the benefits of stability, continuity, and predictability and each official knows precisely the outcome of his behavior in a matter.
Impersonal Relationships
A notable feature of bureaucracy is that relationships among individuals are governed through the system of official authority and rules. Official positions are free from personal involvement, emotions and sentiments. Thus, decisions are governed by rational factors rather than personal factors. This impersonality concept is used in dealing with organizational relations as well as relations between the organization and outsiders.
Official Record:
Bureaucratic organization is characterized by maintenance of proper official records. The decisions and activities of the organization are formally recorded and preserved for future reference. This is made possible by extensive use of filling system in the organization. An official record is almost regarded as encyclopedia of various activities performed by the people in the organization. ( .

Functions of Bureaucracy In Public Administration
The primary function of bureaucracy is the execution and enforcement of the laws made by the legislature and policies decided by the political executive. Besides this the other important functions are :
The core function is to implement or execute law and policy, which is related to administering government business. This is why the bureaucracy is referred to as ‘the administration’ while the political executive is termed as the ‘government’.
Articulating interests
Policies once made are also implemented by bureaucrats. While implementing policies, bureaucracy come into contact with interest groups such as doctors, teachers, farmers etc. These groups provide information and advice to the bureaucrats relating to their groups, which help the civil servants to plan a policy to satisfy the interest groups.
The political significance of the bureaucracy largely comes from its role as the policy-advisers to the government. Generally, policy is made by the politicians and bureaucrats simply offer advice. Since policy- decisions are made on the basis of information available and advice offered, bureaucrats effectively control the policies made by the government. Politicians, being amateurs depend on bureaucrats, who are professionals and the politicians know what the civil servants tells them. Government decisions thus reflect the influences of bureaucrats.
Assisting Public Representatives
In a democratic setup, policy formulation is the privilege of the elected representatives at different levels of governance. Thus at the federal/central level, it is the cabinet which formulates the policies on the basis of the inputs provided by the respective concerned ministries. Minister in charge of a Ministry is responsible for the formulation of policies for his/her ministry and its attached departments. Bureaucrats being repository of institutional knowledge along with their experience serve as guides to their respective ministers in formulating these policies. They not only give vital inputs for this purpose but in most of the cases put up the first draft of any public policy.
Political Stability
Ministers and governments come and go, while civil servants are permanent, once appointed they continue till their retirement. Thus bureaucracy provides stability and continuity within political system and with change of government, there is no change of policy immediately.

However bureaucracy has got some critics in some views. Formal bureaucracy may also breeds time servers rather than innovators. It encourages administrators to be risk-averse instead of being risk-takers, and to waste scarce resources instead of using them efficiently .Weber regarded bureaucracy as the highest form or organization, but it is also criticized for producing inertia, lack of enterprise ,red tape, mediocrity and inefficiency and al conditions are thought to be endemic in public sector bodies.
Also, Weber regarded bureaucracy as inevitable with the modernization of society, there were clearly aspects that worried him. There was some conflict between bureaucracy and democracy and it was not making sense for a democracy to have a distinct elite acting secretively .(Gerth and Mills,1970, p. 2280)
Weber’s model will be performed in those enterprises where change is not anticipated. Big business houses and government departments use this type of organization. Weber is credited for attempting to develop Bureaucratic model for the first time.
Weber’s model has some drawbacks. It has rigidity, impersonality, excessive cost of control, excessive dependence on superiors, tendency to ignore organizational goals. In spite of these limitations this model is very useful in large enterprises.
Public administration and Management by Owen E. Hughes
Public Administration and Management In South Africa (Editors Chris Thornhill, Gerda Van Dijk, Isioma Ile
Internet Articles by Smrit Chand (
Internet Archives(
Internet source with an Author(