Problems of Bureaucracies
The chnracterlsncs that mnke up Weber's "rational" model of bureaucracy have a dark side that has free quently given this type of organization a bad name. Three of the major problems of bureaucracies are (I) inefficiency and rigidity. (2) resistance to change, and (3) perpetuation of nice. class. and gender inequalities. Inefficiency and Rigidity Bureaucracies experience inefficienc}, and rigidity at both the upper and lower levels of the organization. The self-protective behavior of officials at the top may render the organization inefficient. One type of self-protective behavior is the monopolization of information in order to maintain control over subordinates and outsiders. Information is a valuable commodity in organizations. and those persons in positions of authority guard information because it is a source of power for them-others cannot "second-guess" their decisions without access to relevant (and often "confidential") information (Blau and Meyer. 1987). When those at the top tend to use their power and authority to monopolize information, they also fail to communicate with workers at the lower levels. As a result. they are often unaware of potential problems facing the organization and of high levels of worker frustration. Bureaucratic regulations are written in far greater detail than is necessary in order to ensure that almost all conceivable situations are covered Goal displacement occurs when the rules become an end in the~selves rather than a means to an end, and organizational survival becomes more important than achievement of goals (Merton, 1968).
Inefficiency and rigidity occur at the lower levels of the organization as well.Workers often engage intitual-" ism; that IS, they become most concerned with "going through the motions" and "following the rules."According to Robert Merton (I 968), the term bureaucratic personality describes those workers who are more concerned with following correct procedures th ey ace with getting the Job done correctly. Such workers are usually able to handle routine situations effectively but are frequently incapable of handling a unique problem or an emergency. Thorstein Veblen (1967/1899) used the term trained incapacity to characterize situations in which workers have become so highly specialized, or have been given such fragmented jobs to do, that they are unable to come up with creative solutions to problems. Workers who have reached this point also tend to experience bureaucratic alienation-they really do not care what is happening around them.