Bureaucracy, Power, Micropolitics and Negotiated Order in Organisations

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Bureaucracy – Max Webber ( 1864 – 1920)

Webber developed the concept of bureaucracy. He viewed it as a formal system of organization and administration to ensure effectiveness and efficiency. He analysed the role of a leaser and examined how/why individuals respond to various forms of authority.

Webber’s Bureaucratic Model

• Rational – Legal

• Classical :

➢ rational because its means are expressly designed to achieve certain goals with maximum efficiency.

➢ Legal because authority is exercised by means of a system of rules and procedures. As the organisation grows there become more rules.

• Traditional:

➢ authority based on customs and practise.

➢ Status is inherited.

➢ Patriarchal attitude. “we obey you because we’ve always obeyed people like you”.

• Charismatic: leader has a special quality that inspires people to perform. Examples are Henry Ford, John F. Kennedy & Jack Welch

Webber’s Ideal Bureaucracy

A bureaucracy should have:

• Division of labour: jobs broken down into simple, routine and well- defined tasks

• Authority hierarchy: positions organized in a hierarchy with a clear chain of command

• Formal selection: people selected for jobs based on technical qualifications

• Formal rules and regulations: system of written rules and standard operating procedures

• Impersonality: uniform application of rules and controls, not according to personalities

• Career Orientation: managers are career professionals, not owners of units they manage

An ideal bureaucracy should have all these characteristics but not all organisations in this present day have all these characteristics

Key points of bureaucracy

• Authority is the power to hold people responsible for their actions

• Positions in the firm should be held based on performance not social contacts

• Position duties are clearly identified. People should know what is expected of them

• lines of authority should be clearly identified. Workers should know who reports to who.

• Rules, standard operating procedures & norms used to determine how the firm operates

Open systems thinking: A way of analysing complex entity in terms of system inputs, system outputs and an internal conversion process – with communication links or ‘control actions’ monitoring the outputs to enable any necessary process adjustments to be made

We are encouraged to look at how each component of the organization - its purchasing, technologies, marketing, and production and so on functions. Interrelated functioning is necessary if the organization in not going to die.

The organisation is viewed like an animal that eats food and through its conversion process excretes outputs. During the conversion process the animals reacts to changes in environment like if it is hungry it looks for food. This view does not include managers.

Systems- Control thinking:

• The organization is a controllable entity(system / social machine)

• It takes inputs such as raw materials, knowledge and human effort through a conversion process utilizing various technologies to produce outputs in the form of goods and services.

• It is designed and controlled by people who design, engineer and maintain it.

• It is controlled in order to achieve the organizational goals which it was designed to fulfil.

From Systems to process thinking

Organizations are not best frames as goal-based systems which can be designed, managed and controlled like an engineer designs machines & controls the machine. They are more usefully framed as on-going human relationships involving processes of constant negotiation, exchange, persuasion, power, etc (“managers, executives negotiate with staff, senior managers. They persuade them to get things done and use the power to do so. It is a constant process in order to achieve a goal. It involves dealing...
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