6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Bureaucracy

Although not many are in favor of bureaucracy, the organizational model still continues to prevail today. Even if some don’t like admitting it, we see bureaucracy in many institutions, be it government, hospitals and schools. In other words, we deal with bureaucratic settings on a daily basis. But is it truly an advantage or a disadvantage?

List of Advantages of Bureaucracy

1. It’s not as bad as it’s depicted to be.
Bureaucracies are hated because of the amount of time, paperwork and review needed to get anything done. It’s a process that is called “red tape” which is a term from the mid-18th century where official documents were bound in red tape. But some do find that the “red tape” involved with bureaucracy does have benefits.

An example would be the Food and Drug Administration ensuring that American health is properly protected. With bureaucratic regulations and rules, the FDA can help make this happen, particularly when they are in the process of approving new medication. The red tape documents during the process are then used for analysis and correction when problems arise.

2. It’s impersonality may have some benefits.
Let’s say that there is an applicant looking to get a student loan from the government. Before an applicant is given a loan, they have to submit a whole lot of paperwork. Advocates of bureaucracy believe that this lengthy process promotes equal treatment because every applicant is given a fair chance.

3. It’s not fond of favoritism.
Favoritism is discouraged in bureaucracy. This just means that an organization that is run well doesn’t consider friendships and political clout when deciding on matters.

List of Disadvantages of Bureaucracy

1. Bureaucratic rules and regulations aren’t really helpful.
Not a lot of good is said about bureaucracies and the complaints people have about the organizational model are valid. For instance, bureaucratic rules and regulations don’t really help much particularly when unexpected situations crop up.

It is true that bureaucratic authority is undemocratic. Plus, adherence to rules may prevent organizations from taking the exact actions in order to achieve their goals.

2. Bureaucracies create “paper trails” and lots of rules.
The penchant for bureaucracies to create “paper trails” and a handful of rules are just some features that people don’t really appreciate about it. Organizations most known for this are governmental bureaucracies and those who dislike bureaucracy argue that lots of paperwork and rules will only hinder an organization from achieving their set goals.

3. Governmental red tape costs time and money.
Critics of bureaucracies argue that red tape, particularly those in government, cost time and money for taxpayers. Both Parkinson’s Law and the Peter Principle were created to explain how bureaucracies become dysfunctional.

Parkinson’s Law states that bureaucracies will always grow. Put simply, managers looking to appear busy will up their workload through creating paper and rules. This means that bureaucratic growth will only serve managers who use their increasing powers to control workers.

The Peter Principle states that employees who are employed in a bureaucracy get promoted according to their level of incompetence. In short, a competent manager will continue to receive promotions until such a time they become incompetent where they will remain until they retire or die. This kind of phenomenon continues to live on because workers who are competent will continue to work their way up the ladder.

Author Biography
Keith Miller has over 25 years experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entreprenuer, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.