How does the bureaucracy affect us?

To know how the bureaucracy affects us, we must know the concept and origin of this form and organizational structure, mainly that associated with public processes.

The word bureaucracy derives from French bureaucratie, composed of the root bureau, which means office, and the suffix cracia, whose Greek origin serves in the formation of words that mean authority, government or domain.

What is bureaucracy?

The Bureaucracy Theory, was created to respond to the “need to ensure that the organization of the different companies were ‘organized’ in a rational way”, especially those that had many employees and with quite a few activities to develop every day.

One of the main proponents of this theory has been Max Weber, a German economist who assumed that the bureaucracy “it was a rational way of organizing an entity to make it work with precision, clarity, speed and efficiency”.

Weber believed that to establish the bureaucracy effectively it was necessary to They will consider elements such as the way to divide the work, the hierarchy, taking into account the authority, the rules and regulations, professional commitment, rationality, impersonality when following procedures and rules or written records.

Max Weber conceived that bureaucracy was the best way to “organize collective work because it provides predictability and that generates greater efficiency”.

So far, everything is fine, as long as it tries to facilitate the way of making a set of functions practical in an organization where there are many personnel and various processes to follow. These functions could be typical of banks, financial entities, administrative processes of any structure, be it medical, services or goods.

But, the bureaucracy associated with the public administration, where all citizens at some point in their lives must go to carry out a procedure, has a negative perception, inasmuch as it has made processes a way to lead, stop, slow down or postpone a management.

In this sense, the bureaucracy is the entire set of public officials who make the public administration see as an inefficient process due to the amount of paperwork, signatures, stamps and other formalities involved, as well as the excessive attribution of officials in public procedures.

Although there is a poor perception of the term, especially in public organizations, bureaucracy has been understood as the structure that implies regularized and clear procedures, as well as hierarchical relationships, labor specialization and effective division of functions.

Why does bureaucracy arise in a public office?

There are several causes why the bureaucracy is part of the inefficiency of a public office, due to the number of controls that are to be established and that they depend, on many occasions, on the officials who execute them.

Among these causes are:

The excessive adherence to statutes, ordinances and regulations, which are priority and mandatory, without the possibility of making them more flexible, considering each procedure as an individual peculiarity.

The excessive paperwork, translated into forms, copies, documents, legalizations, among others, to be able to process any document or administrative case.

The resistance to change to speed up, simplify or make processes more efficient, taking into account aspects such as saving resources, time and money. In this sense, the public official is skeptical and turns out to be an operator of routine processes that dominates in depth; and when there is the slightest possibility of changing these processes, it is seen as threatening the balance of the group and the organization, as it is new or unknown.

The depersonalization of relationships is another reason bureaucracy arises, since people do not know each other by their names, but by the positions they hold; hence the provisions of “talk to the manager”, “call the manager”, “take it to the secretary”.

The hierarchy has the final word, and in this the bureaucracy has a great asset, since the one who decides is the one who occupies the highest position within the organization, even if he does not know anything about the procedure or the case on which he has to decide.

The approval of routine procedures and blind compliance with them are typical of bureaucracy, and the official remains to do only what is established in the rules, regulations, and procedure manuals that the organization has imposed, without taking into account the flexibility that may result in a more efficient process.

Consequences of bureaucracy

Those who have been in a public office where massive procedures are carried out for people with the same problems, will have realized how the bureaucracy affects citizens.

In administrative offices with excess bureaucracy conflicts are generated when giving attention to users, since all are treated in the same way without responding to individual needs, or paying attention to the case of a particular person.

Thus, the entire organization responds to a manual of procedures and does not deal with differences between people. Procedures are so organized and systematic that they often become slow and ineffective.

In public administration, bureaucracy has unwanted consequences, as it leads to inefficiency, imperfections and deviations of processes. In other words, bureaucracy in public processes creates dysfunctions or anomalies in the functioning and dynamism of the public administration.

Bureaucracy in public affairs leads to loss of time and money.

The resistance to change, mentioned above, prevents processes that can be processed differently from flowing, while preventing the optimization of resources, especially human resources, who could perform more functions in less time.

It is not difficult to assume that the excess of bureaucracy in public processes has motivated or promoted the appearance of public managers, who are aware of how to circumvent the processes or internally get someone to carry out the procedures in exchange for money.

Definitely, today, when time is a factor that everyone considers important, the bureaucracy linked to the loss of time, paperwork and the ups and downs to which it subjects the citizen, threatens the quality of life and it deteriorates the positive perception that one may have about public organizations in general.

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