Bureaucracy corresponds to the legal-rational type of authority. It is an organizational design characterized by a specialization of labour, a specific authority hierarchy, a formal set of rules and rigid promotion and selection criteria.
According to Weber bureaucracy was the most efficient way of running large organizations, because of the following characteristics:
1) Job Specialization: Parts of a particular activity was broken down into small, simple and routine tasks, which the people working for it had to master and hence become specialized in doing a particular task. This increased the efficiency of the workforce and helped reduce wastages.
2) Authority Hierarchy: The members of the organization are organized with each one having perfect knowledge of their authorities and responsibilities. Hence, each member knew who he is responsible to and to whom he is responsible. These clear cut distinctions are brought about through the chain-of-command or authority-responsibility structures.
3) Formal rules and regulations & Impersonality: Since managing a large workforce would be difficult in a haphazard manner, and in a one-to-one and personal manner, uniform policies and procedures were laid down in order to simplify and guide the behavior and actions of members of the organization.
4) Formal Selection: As was the case of initiating formal rules for limiting the behavior of the members above, rules were also laid down for the selection of members on the various positions required. They had to be based on comparison of job descriptions and the qualifications endowed in the candidate such as educational and technical qualifications, aptitude and other tests, etc. which would provide the candidate to be a close match for the position.
5) Career Orientation: It deals with the differentiation of managers and owners and explains how managers should also behave in a manner that would enhance their career opportunities.