Organisational Theories Via a Movie : Yes Man

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I was at the cinema watching “Yes Man”, an American comedy, starring Jim Carrey. I found it hard to concentrate at the very end as three old, serious-looking men were deep in discussion. I was just about to ask them to be quiet when I realised that they were discussing the representation of bureaucracy portrayed in “Yes Man”. It is through the discussion of these three men : Max Weber a German sociologist and economist , Robert Merton an American economist and Michel Crozier a French sociologist that this essay will examine the characteristics of bureaucracy found in the movie “Yes Man”. Since the seventies new organisational theories based on motivation and participation have emerged. However, a more traditional organisational system remains from the past : the bureaucracy system. This essay documents a hypothetical interaction between Weber, Merton and Crozier. Weber as the founder of the theory of bureaucracy and both Merton and Crozier as two of its renowned critics. This essay will explore the representation of bureaucracy through “Yes Man” and the life of the main character, Carl Dan. Overall this essay will show the different points of view of Weber, Merton and Crozier about bureaucracy by pointing out and discussing scenes from the movie “Yes Man”.

Weber, Merton and Crozier started their conversation about Carl's depressed state. Indeed, Carl is melancholic and unhappy. He dislikes his job, he does not want to do anything or to go out with his friends, and would rather spend every night watching horror movies on his own. Robert Merton opened the conversation : “I believe that it is the repercussion of repetitive tasks that make this poor Carl depressed”. In fact, Carl works in a Bank and his task is to accept or deny loans according to very strict, predetermined criteria. He does not have to take any personal initiative or have any innovation and he must always do things according to the book (Merton, R, 1957). Merton continued by adding : “I have noticed more than being not motivated that Carl has a tendency of being selfish as well (Merton, R, 1957). Carl does not care about anyone other than himself. He even missed his best friends engagement party which is a real pity”. Carl lives as a recluse and the movie convinces the spectators that he did not used to act like that before finding his boring and repetitive job. Mr Crozier was following Merton's point of view without taking part of the conversation. Again, Merton spoke : “As far as I am concerned, I believe that Carl acts selfishly and lacks motivation because of the rigid rules that a system of bureaucracy requires. He is stuck by those strict regulations and threatened by both routine and conformism.” (Merton, R, 1957) Finally, Mr Weber replied with a self-assured voice. “ The written rules and detailed description of each task and action are one of the six reasons, that allow the efficiency of my organisational theory” (Johnston, K, B, August 17, 2010). This sentence was an electric shock for Crozier who asked with a very strong French accent: “I would be very interested to hear your other reasons why your organisational theory is, according to you, an efficient organisational system Mr Weber, Sir.” At this point of the conversation Merton's point of view and fears about the bureaucracy system were understood. Furthermore, through Weber's conversation we saw that written rules help the efficiency of the bureaucracy system. This essay will now relate the continuation of the conversation.

Weber after a short minute of reflection exclaimed : “Dear Mr Crozier, I actually do believe that the bureaucracy system has the best technical efficiency out of all of the other theories. The phenomenon of Bureaucracy is irreversible because it is faster, more precise and more objective. It also allows problems, when they occur, to be solved without conflict.” (Kilcullen, J, n.d.). Crozier looked surprised and asked Weber : “How can problems be solved without...
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