Bureaucratic Organizational Structure – Know More About It

The bureaucratic organizational structure is an age-old structure used by government corporations and private sectors as well. These structures are prominent and needed in a large organization that caters to a huge number of employees. This term was first coined by the German sociologist Max Weber. He describes the bureaucratic theory of management as he believed that bureaucratic organizational structure was the most efficient way to help an organization’s administrative functions and duties. In a bureaucratic organizational structure, the maintenance of division of labor is made.

Bureaucratic Organizational Structure

What kind of structure does it have?

You will find many rules and procedures to follow in such structures. One can expect to find strict protocols and proper ways to communicate in such a structure. These structures follow a pyramid structure such as:-

1. The command is given from top to bottom. The bottom ones do not question or give their opinion in the decision-making. 

2. That means that this structure has a meticulous division of labor. The responsibilities are well-defined according to their level of position. 

3. It has a clear hierarchy. There is professionalism at all times. Each one is assigned a task and has to focus on it. The hierarchical structure is the focal point in the bureaucratic structure.

What not to expect from a bureaucratic structure?

In such a structure, one must not expect a friendly atmosphere because each employee is to have an impersonal relationship. The selection and promotions of the employees are made purely on a merit basis. It depends on their technical qualifications.

That makes it easier to communicate with the concerned person without hassle or difficulties. Each one is an expert in their field and that is one thing that keeps the work flowing smoothly.

For instance, in a company, the marketing team will not handle everything, it will have different departments and concerned people to deal with specific tasks. One good thing about this type of structure is that each person knows what role they are responsible for and since they are focused on specific tasks only, they become specialized and experts in what they do.

What are some of the examples of bureaucratic organizational structure?

  • Disciplinary forces like the US Police department or the US armed forces.
  • Prisons and hospitals.
  • Academic institutions like colleges and universities.
  • Banks and financial institutions.

One must know that any department that comes under a government corporation, an independent executive agency, and an independent regulatory agency all follow the bureaucratic organizational structure.

Characteristics of the structure.

1. Task-Oriented.

The systematic way of working adds value to the employees and increases their economic effectiveness. Therefore the bureaucratic organizational structure is task-oriented. 

2. Formal Selection

This structure heavily focuses on the formal selection which means the person applying for the bureaucratic organizational structure has proper training, experience, and education.

3. Follow protocol.

This type of structure follows proper rules and protocols. Each one knows their work and follows proper procedures to make the work done.

4. Unfriendly environment.

In such an organizational structure there is a huge indifference at work among the employees. The employees are expected to follow rules and regulations therefore in such a structure, there is no place for personal decision to interfere in the functioning of the work procedure.

5. Hierarchical in Nature.

As you can imagine, these organizations are highly hierarchical. They follow the pyramid structure. In such a structure there is always a proper chain of command. Each layer of management is responsible for its staff. Such a bureaucratic organization follows a clear line of the protocol in hiring people of expertise. This helps a lot in the proper delegation of tasks to the right person. 

This kind of channelizing task is helpful to the person assigned because the skills are sharpened and the person gets better at his/her work thereby increasing his/her worth. As the experiences and expertise improve, that person has a lot of scope in growing in that particular career field.

Disadvantages of bureaucratic structure.

Even though there are many advantages to this structure as one hears this organizational structure, most frown upon it because it has its disadvantages as well. 

  • The disadvantages can come in slow communication due to its hierarchical nature.
  • A large amount of red tape, and lots of paperwork due to the formal way of working. 
  • Each transaction, communication has to be recorded in emails, memos, etc. 
  • Impersonal office culture is the outcome. This creates a problem of distrust and disloyalty among the staff.

What is the common problem faced by bureaucratic organizational structure?

  • The real issue that is hampering the workflow or creative expression is ignored. The strict and clear definition of the hierarchical structure makes it impossible for people to voice out. A participatory way of working in this structure cannot be done.
  • This structure follows the rigidity of rules and procedures, so you can be sure of getting a delayed response to things that require immediate action.
  • Higher levels of frustration are found in such rigid structures. A high level of indifference can be expected from its staff.
  • Those in the higher-ups have a greater advantage to create a monopoly of power. It may increase the chances of systematic corruption in the higher-ups.

Points to note:

Before joining such an organization that follows bureaucratic structures, one must understand its way of working and the ins and outs of its structural makeup. An organization must let their potential employees know their way of working beforehand as it will only cause confusion and suffocate the person joining as it may not go down with him/her when he/she discovers the bureaucratic style of work. Working in such a structure will only make you frustrated and unmotivated. 

Where is the bureaucratic structure most beneficial?

The great advantage is that it can be applied in large Organizations that require greater accuracy, accountability. It is best in organizations where legislation plays a huge role in giving out a consistent output. An organization where work tasks are huge needs better monitoring and flow of tasks, in such a case bureaucratic organizational structure is best suited.

What type of personality fits into this structure?

The strict rules that such structure adheres to may not be liked by some personality types as the bureaucratic organizational structure emphasizes the rules rather than the people. Promotions are given on merit-based and not on seniority. 

This structure works best for those people who love to work efficiently without the need to maintain relationships with their colleagues. They are for those who are only concerned with focusing on the task to be done. It makes way for quick and efficient workings but it does not promise a personal relationship to develop. Anyone who is more concerned with their career progress and is not interested in sharing personal friendships at work can work efficiently at this kind of structure.

How is the bureaucratic structure helpful in your career path?

It can lead you on the path to success in forming a strong value in your respective field. Since it has a strong set of work distribution, it will only promote excellence in your work. You will achieve greater credibility and will gain more knowledge than others who are not working in such a structure. This will lead you to be the most sought-after professional. The benefits to following this structure or Working in one are endless.


  • When did the bureaucratic organizational structure come into existence?

When capitalism came into existence, the barter system was no longer in use. At that time, the Bureaucratic organizational structure became the most sought-after in both the private and public sectors.

  • Is bureaucratic organizational structure reliable to some extent?

If the common problems that come with following this structure are dealt with effectively then yes, it can be a fruitful one. But the opinions on following this structure are vastly divided among people.

  • Does the private organization follow this structure?

Yes, they do. Those large Organizations that need a lot of manpower and segregation of work follow this type of bureaucratic organizational structure theory.


Such bureaucratic organizational structure may be traditional and started centuries ago. But it is not surprising to see many companies in the US following this organizational structure and are gaining more popularity now. Although this structure’s core interest is rules and procedures and does not give emphasis on the personality of a person but only looks at his/her skill competence, this type of structure has the advantage of bringing proper order in the chain of command and getting things done faster and more efficiently. Therefore, it is best to study the outcome of following such a structure in advance and see if your organization can handle it and choose wisely.

Bureaucratic Organizational Structure – Know More About It

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