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).
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
- standarized operations, coupled with high formalization, allow the parameters of major decisions to be centralized
- standarized 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).
- Austin D.M., (2002). Human Services Management: Organizational Leadership in Social Work Practice , "Columbia University Press".
- Bolman L.G, Deal T.E., (2013). Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership , "John Wiley & Sons".
- Pathi K.M., (2010). Public Administration Workbook , "Dorling Kindersley".
- Shermon G., (2017). The Intellectual Company - Beyond Wisdom , "Lulu Publishing".
Author: Natalia Talarek