Weber's Ideal Bureaucracy

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NAME:Sherry-Ann S. Jacobs
COURSE CODE:SOCI1002
COURSE NAME:Sociology for the Caribbean
E-TUTOR:Mr. Lance Gibbs
DATE:June 14, 2012

QUESTION:
"Weber's ideal bureaucracy worked well for large organizational structures in the 20th century. Globalization, with its changing patterns of work, has presented new challenges for the efficiency of this type of approach to modern organizations in the Caribbean." Evaluate this statement. _________________________________________________________________________________________________

Max Weber (1864-1920) was one of the main developers of the idea of bureaucratic management in the late nineteenth century. He advocated doing away with systems of management that were based on traditions and personal connection, and replacing them with systems in which roles existed independently of the individuals who occupied them. In light of this, bureaucracy is defined as ‘the body of officials and administrators, especially of a government or government department; administration characterized by excessive red tape and routine.’ “To fully appreciate and understand the work of Max Weber, one therefore has to keep the historic context in mind, and not "just" see his work as a caricature of bureaucratic models.” Max Weber lived in a time when many theorists were working on improving the efficiency of industrial processes. According to Jagg Xaxx, Weber advocated a management system that emphasizes clearly defined roles for management and labor. This system is designed to do away with excess and superfluous interaction, movement and communication in order to maximize productive work. The development of this theory can be seen as the reflection of an era in which machines were assuming the workload across many industries and becoming an integral part of people's lives, making them more receptive to the idea of a workplace as a giant machine. Prior to the dawn of the age of bureaucracy, social and financial roles were inseparable from the people who occupied them. Financial life was intricately bound up with personal life, and most trade was done between people who knew one another. Weber's new system of bureaucratic, impersonal roles was more in keeping with a mass society in which strangers interacted every day. By developing a business model in which the role of president, manager or CEO would outlast the person occupying it when he was replaced with a new person, Weber promoted the idea of a business or organization that is essentially immortal.

For Weber, the most efficient way to get things done in a bureaucratic system is to impose a hierarchy. A hierarchical system is characterized by tiers of managers, with each tier answerable to the tier above it. A company is run and controlled by a president or CEO, who oversees a number of vice presidents, who oversee a larger number of managers, who oversee the workers. This model allows direction and instruction to flow efficiently down through the ranks, and information about production to flow back up until it reaches a person with the authority to make needed changes. ‘The latter half of the twentieth century, saw the development of a new kind of global society, one in which the economies of all nations and societies were in one way or another connected to each other and dependent upon each other.’ The Caribbean society is not by any means excluded from this global community, but is experiencing inevitable changes due to globalization, which by definition is ‘the development of an increasingly integrated global economy marked especially by free trade, free flow of capital, and the tapping of cheaper foreign labor markets; globalization is an elimination of barriers to trade, communication, and cultural exchange.’

Remnants of Weber’s bureaucracy still exists in our Caribbean society, the central features of the rational organization can clearly be identified in most of the organizations in the Caribbean today. These features...
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