Three Closed-System Models in Criminal System


The criminal system uses both open-system models and closed-system models. The open-system model relies on the influence of the external environment to make decisions. On the other hand, the closed-system model relies on an organization’s internal systems to account for various behaviors. For instance, if a prisoner was abused in the correctional facility, from the perspective of the closed-system model, the solution would be looked for within the internal systems. This may include revising the policies, prison culture, correctional officers, inmate interaction, and other internal factors. The closed-system model comprises scientific, bureaucratic, and administrative management. The present study will evaluate the three perspectives by describing the characteristics of each model, comparing between similarities and differences of the models, and suggesting the most effective model.

Scientific Management

The scientific model was developed on the management practices to improve an organization’s efficiency. Fredrick Wilson Taylor introduced this model and determined three factors that affect productivity: task performance, supervision, and motivation (Zielinski et al., 2020). Having worked in Midvale Steel Company, Taylor noted that task performance was essential because there is only one way to do a task right. According to Taylor, when there is adequate task performance, which includes the movement of tools and sequencing, each worker in the company could load 47.5 tons of steel, unlike the 12.5 tons done daily (Zielinski et al., 2020). In addition, Taylor noted that one supervisor is ineffective for a whole floor regarding supervision. Each supervisor should be allocated authority in the area where they demonstrate expertise. The third element was motivation, and he believed that employees are sorely motivated by monetary values; therefore, employees should be paid according to their output. This will make employees who do not perform their best improve.

Administrative Management

This element focused on the work the managers did to improve productivity. The theory was introduced by Henri Fayol, who was working in the mining industry and divided management functions into planning, organizing, leading, coordinating, and controlling. His model was based on fourteen principles starting with divisions of work, whereby he proposed that dividing work into smaller tasks can increase productivity through efficiency. The other element was authority, whereby managers were required to experience their authority through commanding tasks (Malik et al., 2022). The third proposal was that employees must be disciplined to obey the commands. The other element was that each employee was required to take orders from one manager and unity of direction, whereby all related tasks had to be organized into one unit (Malik et al., 2022). In the other element, Henry believed that organizational goals should supersede those of individuals and that employees should be compensated fairly.

In addition, Henry supported centralization and a scalar chain of command whereby there was a continuous chain of command that employees had to follow from the senior most to the lowest employee. Order and equity were as well added to his principles, where he believed that the workplace requires rules and policies to ensure order and fair treatment for all employees with a sense of justice (Malik et al., 2022). Finally, he advocated for stable employee tenure, initiative, and the management to have teamwork, morale, and work in harmony with employees to achieve high productivity.

Bureaucratic Management

The bureaucratic management model uses the employee and management of a company to achieve efficiency. This model was submitted by Max Weber and was based on five elements. The first element was against personal relations, whereby he suggested that employees and managers should not have personal relations because they hindered the implementation of laws in the workplace. He indicated that the only measurement of performance was through productivity, and therefore managers had to distance themselves from employees’ social interactions (Suzuki & Hur, 2019). The second factor was employee selection and promotion, whereby employees are supposed to be promoted according to their productivity and efficiency and not on who knows who. The third factor was based on power, whereby various positions were supposed to hold different levels of authority depending on the organization’s hierarchy (Suzuki & Hur, 2019). Therefore, individuals are not bestowed with power but instead positions they hold. The fourth element was system rules, whereby organizations had to provide rules which should be followed during decisions making and personal judgments. Finally, he embraced task specialization, where every employee is assigned various tasks they can do best.

Similarities of the Models

One of the main similarities between administrative and bureaucratic management is the division of labor and specialization. Henri Fayol and Max Weber agree that the specialization of tasks is essential in enhancing productivity. Fayol insists on dividing work into smaller elements called tasks because doing repetitive work boosts learning, increasing productivity and efficiency (Maculan & Gil Gil, 2020). On the other hand, Max Weber encourages work specialization because it leads to less interference and hence more productivity. For instance, there is specialization in the criminal justice system whereby the judges major in dealing with cases, police are exclusively for making arrests, and prison wardens are mainly in the correctional facilities. Detective units have significant training in investigating cases, and therefore they should not be moved from those divisions to other positions because it may affect their performance (Maculan & Gil Gil, 2020). However, these officers may collaborate with officers from other departments, such as high-risk probation officers, if the crime they are dealing with is related to dangerous criminals. In addition, specialization helps avoid duplication of work in the criminal system.

The other similarity is the hierarchy of authority, whereby all three theories agree that there is a need for an order of power for productivity to be enhanced in the criminal system. Taylor acknowledges a need for supervision for an organization to be productive. Fayol’s principles advocate for centralization, a scalar chain of authority, and authority in an organization for it to be successful (Malik et al., 2022). Weber proposed a hierarchy of power by ranking each job position according to its power. A well-organized scale of power allows effective vertical communication whereby everyone in the criminal system knows who they report to in the chain of command. This reduces informal communications and increases formal contacts such that everyone is accountable for their data and information (Maculan & Gil Gil, 2020). For instance, the chain of command in detention centers has stringent rules on who should give information from one shift to another. This enables them to follow up on details regarding inmates by looking at the officer who was in charge on that specific shift and holding them accountable for the information.

Differences in the Models

One of the main differences between bureaucratic and scientific management is freedom in how people interact. Taylor is flexible and has avenues for social conversations in the workplace. In addition, he advocates for overlapping job roles whereby employees in a specific shift can be moved to areas they fit (Zielinski et al., 2020). For instance, detectives are allowed to replace juvenile officers in a prison shift if they perform better in those roles. In addition, officers can freely speak to their superiors and assume their powers if they are better at them.

However, according to Max Weber, employee relationships should not be entertained in the workplace as employee performance is evaluated on efficiency and output. Each role should be well-defined, and there are no overlapping roles with a strict top-to-bottom hierarchy. However, this model is effective for standardized services and not in the criminal system where constant human interaction exists. Criminal justice is labor intensive, and officers have too much contact with offenders, citizens, or victims, making it difficult to avoid emotions (Suzuki & Hur, 2019). A good example is court proceedings, whereby human emotions play a significant role in the final ruling. Female judges are more emotional with females in rape and domestic violence cases. Therefore, it is challenging to implement Max Weber’s element of non-socialization in the criminal system.

The Best System for the Criminal System

The most effective model for the criminal justice system is the administrative management model. This is because the model focuses on divisions of labor, which is essential in increasing efficiency by having a line of personnel such as correctional officers, Juvenile officers, and police officers. In addition, the model advocates for centralized administration of power, which is very compatible with the criminal justice system. There is a strict hierarchy of power, and officers are expected to be disciplined and obey all the orders from their superiors. This model advocates for the unity of command, which is well applicable in the criminal justice system, whereby officers get orders from their bosses, and there is a distinct chain of power in the courts, correctional facilities, and law enforcement. This makes it the most effective model for application in the criminal justice system.


Maculan, E., & Gil Gil, A. (2020). The rationale and purposes of criminal law and punishment in transitional contexts. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 40(1), 132–157.

Malik, H. M., Vanto, J., Lähteenmäki, L., Vatjus-Anttila, J., & Davies, J. (2022). A critical perspective on the administrative approach to crime prevention: The case of labor trafficking. European Journal of Criminology, 13(4), 147737082210923.

Suzuki, K., & Hur, H. (2019). Bureaucratic structures and organizational commitment: findings from a comparative study of 20 European countries. Public Management Review, 22(6), 877–907.

Zielinski, M. J., Allison, M. K., Brinkley-Rubinstein, L., Curran, G., Zaller, N. D., & Kirchner, J. A. E. (2020). Making change happen in criminal justice settings: leveraging implementation science to improve mental health care. Health & Justice, 8(1).

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