Max Weber constructed an “Ideal type” of model of bureaucracy. It is called an ideal type of pure bureaucracy because it was believed that the bureaucratic method of administering large formal organizations was necessary and efficient (Weber 1952-1827). We give below the main features of bureaucracy of an ideal type:
1. There is a clear cut division of labour, with organizational tasks officially designated as belonging to various positions and status.
2. This division of labour is linked to specialization and employees are recruited on the basis of their technical qualifications for the positions.
3. There is a hierarchy of authority, with officials or super ordinates above and subordinates below. The scope of authority of each position is clearly defined with limits.
4. There is a formally established system of rules and regulations that ensures co-ordination of activities and promotion stability.
5. Officials are expected to act universalistically and impersonally and to judge others on the basis of their performance that is, in terms of their actions rather than their personal traits.
6. Employment by an organization provides security because persons are selected according to their qualifications and can expect to advance systematically if they perform their functions correctly.
Presumably persons gain the right to their positions after a trial period and are protected against arbital dismissal. The principle of job security is most typical of certain levels of civil service positions and is reflected in seniority rules and the use of tenure in educational institutions. This feature of Weber’s ideal type is less characteristic of other actual work settings.
Economic cycle and changing technological requirements influence, to a considerable extent, the job mobility in real organizations.
Some jobs and skills attached to them become obsolete. In United States, aspiring executive tend to switch jobs in order to move up faster. Interestingly, Japan’s major corporations do attempt to follow the principle of life-time employment.
This policy works well for the lucky ones chosen and employed by major corporations but not for many others. Women are not so chosen because of the assumption that they are temporary employees who will take time out for motherhood. These women may continue to have the status and get the wages of “temporary” employees until they retire.
The six features of Weber’s ideal type of bureaucracy are characterised as rational system model.
Weber’s characteristics stress the form of spelled out, official structures of bureaucracy: designed positions, each with their specific duties, hierarchy of authority, office holder acting impersonally, according to rules.
The organization chart and formal designation of duties provide rational (reasoned) guidelines for accepted behaviour according to the “book”. Authority is official, hence legitimate and since well qualified persons are chosen for positions of authority, they govern appropriately.
Those in lower positions accept the authority of the higher ups. It is always possible to make an “organization chart” designating who manages whom in a formal organization, in term of written rules and official responsibilities.