What Is The Structuralist School Of Administration?

The structuralist school of administration is a type of model for shaping organizational structures. It is distinguished from traditional and charismatic structures.

The theory of this school proposes that an organization should ideally consist of a group of people organized in a hierarchical structure and guided by rational and legal decision making.

The structuralist school of administration has two essential elements. First, it involves structuring an organization in a hierarchy.

Second, it stipulates that the organization and its members must be governed by clearly defined, rational and legal laws. Each element helps the organization achieve its goals.

An administration can be said to be bureaucratic in nature, as long as there is a hierarchy of authority, a departmental separation of duties, and an established set of policies and rules.

The study of bureaucracy originates from the work of Max Weber, a political economist and historian. Weber established six distinct but interrelated characteristics of this model.

Characteristics of the structuralist school of administration

– There is an administrative class

Bureaucratic organizations generally have an administrative class responsible for keeping activities coordinated among members.

The administrative class has the following peculiarities:

  • People are paid as full-time employees.
  • They receive a salary and other incentives, usually based on their positions.
  • Their permanence in the organization is determined by the rules and regulations of said organization.
  • They do not have an equity stake in the organization.
  • They are hired based on their competence.

– There is a hierarchy

The main characteristic of a bureaucratic organization is that there is a hierarchy of positions in the organization. Hierarchy is a ranking system of various positions on a descending scale, from the top to the bottom of the organization.

In bureaucratic organization, offices also follow the hierarchy principle, which implies that a lower value office is subject to the control and supervision of a higher office.

In this way, no office is left unchecked in the organization. This is the fundamental concept of hierarchy in a bureaucratic organization.

The hierarchy serves as a line of communication and delegation of authority; It implies that communication, which runs from top to bottom, must go through each position.

In the hierarchy there are offices with the same authority but with different kinds of functions, which operate in different areas of competence.

– There is a division of labor

The work of the organization is divided based on specialization, in order to take advantage of the division of said work.

Each office in the bureaucratic organization has a specific sphere of competence. This involves:

  • A sphere of duties to perform functions, which have been marked as part of a systematic division of labor.
  • The existence of a holder with the necessary authority to carry out the functions.
  • A clearly defined necessary means of restraint, the use of which is subject to defined conditions.

The division of labor tries to ensure that each office has a clearly defined area of ‚Äč‚Äčcompetence within the organization; each officer knows in which areas he operates and in which he should refrain from acting.

Additionally, the division of labor tries to ensure that no work is left uncovered.

– Official rules are defined

Bureaucratic organizations have a basic emphasis that the administrative process is continuous and governed by official rules.

A rational approach to the organization forces the system to maintain the rules, in order to ensure uniformity and coordination of efforts in the organization by individual members.

These rules should be more or less stable and more or less exhaustive. When there is no rule in one aspect of the organizational operation, the matter in question is resolved and subsequently becomes a precedent for future decisions on similar matters.

The rules provide the benefits of stability, continuity and predictability, so that each officer knows precisely the result of his behavior on a particular matter.

– Relationships are impersonal

An important element of bureaucracy is that relationships between individuals are governed through a system of official authority and through rules. Official positions are not personally, emotionally or sentimentally involved.

In this way, decisions can be governed by rational factors rather than personal factors. The concept of impersonality is used when dealing with organizational relationships, as well as in the relationships between the organization and entities outside it.

– There is an official record

Bureaucratic organization is characterized by the maintenance of appropriate official records. The decisions and activities of the organization are formally recorded and preserved for future reference.

This is possible in the organization by making extensive use of a filling system. An official record is considered almost like an encyclopedia of various activities carried out by the people in the organization.

Advantages and disadvantages

Organizations in the public and private sectors exhibit varying degrees of bureaucracy. Despite the limitations of the bureaucracy, it continues to dominate organizational functioning everywhere: therein lies the importance of this school.

The main advantages and disadvantages will be detailed below:


The great advantage of this system is that large organizations, with many hierarchical levels, can be structured and work effectively.

The established rules and procedures allow for high efficiency and consistent execution of work by all involved.

This system is inevitable in organizations where legislation plays an important role in providing a consistent result. Additionally, it has the advantage of generating great efficiency in your staff.

Bureaucracy also implies a democratic functioning of the organization: a manager cannot make arbitrary use of his power.


It’s unfortunate that employees remain relatively estranged from each other and from the organization, which can make them less loyal.

Since it involves more complicated official rules than might be necessary, it prevents actions from being carried out quickly.

This system is extremely dependent on regulations and policy compliance; it has strict and inflexible rules. This restricts employees from having innovative ideas, and makes them feel like a number rather than an individual.


  1. Max Weber’s ideal bureaucratic model: characteristics and evaluation. Recovered from yourarticlelibrary.com
  2. Bureaucratic theory by Max Weber (2017). Recovered from toolshero.com
  3. What is the bureaucratic model? Recovered from smallbusiness.com
  4. Bureauccratic managemente theory: definition and examples. Recovered from study.com
  5. Weber’s bureaucracy: definition, features, benefits, disadvantages and problems. Recovered from yourarticlelibrary.com

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