Bureaucratic Structures : Power And Authority

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Sarah L. Vital

Bureaucratic Structures: Power and Authority

Dr. Hansen

Public Administration and Modern Society

September 13, 2015

Power and authority organize people in bureaucratic structures. The hierarchical structure of these organizations dictates the scope of authority that each individual has relative to their respective position. Standardized rules, methods, and procedures within the bureaucratic structure stimulate strict discipline as an essential element for success. The organizations are impersonal places to work and do not conform to the needs of the workers. Historically, power and authority in bureaucratic structures have limited individual personal decision-making, restricted individual opportunities for
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Decisions are made in an organized process with strict control at all times (Weber, 1946; Katz & Kahn, 1966).

In 1937, Luther Gulick, in “Notes on Theory of Organization”, introduces the concept of “co-ordination” as a way of organizing systems of communications and control in an organization. Although, Gulick was not necessarily in favor of the top-down approach in the hierarchy of bureaucratic structures as he felt that organization "must be approached from both top and bottom."; he acknowledged the need for subdivision of duties and an authoritative structure for organizations (Gullick, 87, 1937). He argues the role of co-ordination is crucial and that that the division of work is needed for an organization to run efficiently (Gullick, 1937). Each position within a bureaucratic structure is representative of the policy attached to the position. With laws, rules and procedures dictating how each position works to function as a whole, the bureaucratic structure functions like a machine with many parts, each part working together to contribute to the whole and working towards the same strategic goal (Weber, 1922).

In 1912, Frederick W. Taylor, an American mechanical engineer, viewed organizations as very mechanical with measurable functions and he applied a scientific approach to studying efficiency and productivity in the work process. In his published work, “Scientific Management”, he
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