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Bureaucracies and Individuals

Updated on June 29, 2012

Many social scientists have written on the effects of bureaucratic structures and organizations on the individual members of society. Although bureaucracy is meant to promote efficiency and effectiveness in organizing large scale tasks, it has rather come to be associated with inefficiency and ineffectiveness. Rules and regulations, characteristic of bureaucratic organizations, make things slow and often impossible or frustrating. Red-tapism and official rigidity are common expressions used to described bureaucratic operations. On this premise bureaucracy is causing "trained incapacity" This regards to the situation where the training of the bureaucrat in performing specified roles, according to specified patterns, turn out to incapacitate the bureaucrat in a different or changed circumstance. This is a state in which a worker can only respond in one way regardless of what the condition may be, simply because he is specifically trained to carry out a specific task. Training therefore create a a vacuum which no other person can fill except the trained specialist for that specific operation. Also in a different occasion other than their areas of operation, specialist cannot respond and as such training becomes unfit, by being fit, in an unfit fitness.

Bureaucracy may encourage behavioral patterns which hinders the realization of organizational goals. The situations arise which are not covered by the rules, this training may lead to inflexibility and timidity. He has not been taught to improvise and innovate and in addition he may well be afraid to do so. In certain circumstances, breaking of official rules may increase organizational efficiency, but since bureaucrats lack initiatives, owing to obedience to the rules, they do not break such rules otherwise it might amount to disobedience of official rules stipulated. Thus, obeying the rules is beneficial to the official and disobedience is not. In fact it amounts to risking the future of his career, even if it will enhance productivity. thus the bureaucrat becomes a stickler to the rules, even when it's breaking is necessary.

Again, the emphasis on formalistic impersonality in the performance of bureaucratic services, tends to produce specialist without spirits. For example, job seekers in a job center or pregnant women in a maternity clinic maybe expecting concern and sympathy for their particular problems. The business like, impartial and unemotional treatment they might receive can lead to Bureaucrats being seen as cold, unsympathetic, abrupt, and even arrogant. With the increasing, complexity and bureaucratization of modern organizations all power is concentrated at the top, in the hands of organizational elite that rules in a dictatorial manner. The decision making machinery is removed far from the rank and file and concentrated on top of complex and large organizations. Leaders, use the instruments of power at their disposal to consolidate their power positions and direct the affairs of the organization as it suits them and their personal interests. They will usually jeopardise or throw overboard the interests of the rank and file whenever it clashed with their privileges. In this way the interests of the leaders are more than the interest of the masses, are served by organizations.

Leaders labor to preserve the organization and maintained the status quo and not to achieve organizational goals, but to continue to enjoy the perquisites of their offices. By the time, they keep on gathering experiences that makes them look indispensable, their power positions make it almost impregnable. It is the organization, which gives birth to the dominion of the elected over the electors, the mandatories over the mandators, and of the delegates over the delegators. Therefore who says organization, says oligarchy.

Bureaucratic organizations discourage hard work and competition, as they encourage youngsters to join corporations and then settle down to a life of security, togetherness and conformity to laid down principles. They sell their individuality to business and become "organization men". creativity and individualism are possible within organization life, although these qualities may be harder to develop because of emphasis on uniformity and other bureaucratic characteristics. The dilemma of modern man is how to maintain his individuality within over organized mass society.

It is equally necessary to point out here that there is the other side of the relationships between bureaucracies and individuals. Organization has provided an incredibly high standard of living, supermarket chains in large urban cities, by their capacity for rapid and efficient distribution of goods and services, have made such available nationwide through out the year. Highly organized manufacturing firms and multinational corporations, turn out automobiles, television sets, work-saving appliances and a vast array of other necessary goods and services which are distributed around the world. Rapid transportation and communication depend on high degree of organization. Crucial medical services are organized to respond to any emergency. These and other forms of organization life undoubtedly contributes to the general physical well-being of our society.


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