Management and Weber

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Drawing on Weber’s ideal type, critically consider the relevance of bureaucratic administration to the management of twenty-first century organizations. Max Weber was a German sociologist in the twentieth century; he was famous for his classical management theory. Weber classified three different types of authority, traditional, charismatic and legitimate authority. Traditional authority is based on traditions and customs that the leader has the legitimate right to use authority. Charismatic authority is the belief that the leader whose mission and visions will inspire others. Legitimate authority is based on formal, system of rules. In the 1930s, Weber introduced that the bureaucratic form as being the ideal way of organizing government agencies. This soon became popular in both the private and public sectors. Weber believes that the development of rational forms to be the most important characteristics in the development of Western society and capitalism. He considered the traditional and charismatic forms as irrational. Rationality is based on reasoning, calculation and logic. One of the many types of rationality includes the formal rationality. The notion of formal rationality is important to the emergence of industrial capitalism as capitalism values reason, calculation and precision, science and logic. Formal rationality is a form of rationality that characterizes bureaucratic organizations. Bureaucracy refers to the execution of tasks that are governed by official administrative and formal rules of an organization. Weber’s bureaucratic management theory focuses on dividing organizations into hierarchies with authorities and control. The ideal type is extreme, empirically based and yardstick for comparison. Weber has 6 major principles for his ideal type of management style. Firstly, the organization has a formal hierarchical structure, which refers to the ranking system within in the management. A hierarchical structure management style also suggests a centralized decision making process, where the vast majority of decisions are made by a small number of people, usually the senior management teams. Secondly, the organization follows a management by rules system; the organization is controlled by rules, which allows decisions to be made at high level then executed by the lower levels. Thirdly, the organization is organized by functional specialty, which means that there is specialization within the organization; employees are divided into separate departments based on their abilities and skills. Specialization allows the employee to be efficient and more skilled at a specific task, which increases productivity. Furthermore, all decisions and rules are recorded in writing to ensure continuity over time. In addition, in an ideal system, there is equality between all employees, applying to both managerial and non-managerial workers. Lastly, employment is wholly based on technical qualifications, which means employees are hired on a basis of their abilities and competence.

Weber’s bureaucratic management focuses on the authorities in the top level of the hierarchy and causes an “iron cage” to restrict the lower lever workers which leads to demotivation and a feeling of insignificance. Many researchers argue that weber emphasizes on the positive consequences of bureaucracy and ignores the dysfunctions of it. These researchers include Gouldner, Merton and Thompson.

In Gouldner opinions, he does not believe the bureaucracy authority is neither acceptable nor efficient. He proposed three types of bureaucracy, mock bureaucracy, punishment centered bureaucracy and representative bureaucracy. In mock bureaucracy, the rules are ignored because they come from an outside agency; employees feel that there is too much ‘red tape’. In punishment-centered bureaucracy, the rules are imposed on the workers from inside the organization. This type of authority discourages the workers from full commitment; workers would only...
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