Machine bureaucracy

From CEOpedia | Management online

Machine bureaucracy is a traditional model of goods-producing industries or governmental service organizations. There is standardization of work processes and a closed system of action that is, yhe impact of forces in the task environment on the production processes is limited. The automobile assembly line and the computer assembly line are classic examples in which each worker is responsible for a limited number of standardized work tasks, even though the factory may produce a variety of products.

The fundamental assumptions of the machine bureaucracy include a simple, stable, and predictable environment, together with routine production activities and a work force consisting largely of semiskilled workers. A machine bureaucracy may be both efficient and effective when these conditions are met, However, when they are not met, a pattern of anomalies and inconsistencies within the service organization is likely to develop.

(D.M.Austin 2002, p.92-93).

Mechanistic structure

The machine bureaucracy is characterized by:

  • Highly routine operating activities
  • Formalized rules and regulations
  • Functional departmentation
  • Centralized authority
  • Formal chain of command
  • Sharp distinction between line and staff activities

(K.M.Pathi 2010, p.81).

Main advantages of machine bureaucracy

Among advantages we can distinguish some improvements mentioned below:

  • managerial discretion is substituted with rules and regulation
  • the structure facilities the generation and transfer of knowledge within the specialist areas
  • standardized operations, coupled with high formalization, allow the parameters of major decisions to be centralized
  • standardized tasks are usually performed in a higly efficient manner

(G. Shermon 2017, p.255).

Main disadvantages of machine bureaucracy

Machine bureaucracy has also disadvantages which consist of:

  • relative inflexibility and unresponsiveness to changes in environment
  • obsessive concern with the rules, which often leads frustration of non-members
  • the organizational practices are quite difficult to change

(G. Shermon 2017, p. 255).

Example of classic machine bureaucracy

McDonald's is a classic machine bureaucracy. Important decisions are made at the strategic apex; day-to-day operations are controlled by managers and standardized procedures. Unlike simple hierarchies, machine bureaucracies have large support staffs and a sizeable technostructure, with many layers between apex and operating levels. For routine tasks, such as making hamburgers and manufacturing automotive parts, machine bureaucracy is both efficient and effective. A key challenge is how to motivate and satisfy workers in the operating core.

(L. G. Bolman, T. E. Deal 2013, p. 75-76).

Other approaches related to Machine bureaucracy

Apart from Machine bureaucracy, other approaches related to the traditional model of goods-producing industries or governmental service organizations include:

  • Just-in-Time (JIT) Production: This is a production approach that involves the coordination of all the aspects of production and delivery, from the quality of raw materials to the timing of delivery.
  • Supply-chain management: This approach seeks to integrate all aspects of the production process, from suppliers to customers, in an effort to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
  • Total Quality Management (TQM): This method seeks to improve the quality of products and services by emphasizing preventive measures and continuous improvement.
  • Lean Manufacturing: This approach focuses on eliminating waste and reducing production costs by streamlining processes and increasing efficiency.
  • Kaizen: Kaizen is a Japanese approach to continuous improvement that focuses on small, incremental changes over time.

In summary, Machine bureaucracy is a traditional model of goods-producing industries or governmental service organizations that involves standardization of work processes and a closed system of action. Other approaches related to this model include Just-in-Time (JIT) Production, Supply-chain management, Total Quality Management (TQM), Lean Manufacturing, and Kaizen.

Machine bureaucracyrecommended articles
World class manufacturingLean manufacturingTotal quality controlJust in timeGroup technologyToyota production systemContinuous processForms of productionHeijunka


Author: Natalia Talarek