Classical Theories of Hierarchical Management

Topics: Management, Bureaucracy, Max Weber Pages: 10 (3063 words) Published: April 1, 2014
Classical Theories of Hierarchical Management
The purpose of this essay will be to argue the assumptions of classical theories regarding hierarchical management and how it is essential in modern day times. The ranks within a hypothetical pyramid determine the position of an employee within any organisations. Classical management still takes place in today’s management concepts. Max Weber studied bureaucratic organisations, Henri Fayol created the administrative principles and Fredrick Winslow Taylor researched scientific management. These influential people took apart in the formation of hierarchy. The concept of classical management, Weber’s theories and hierarchy will be argued further. In a hierarchical organisation, ranks are what determine a position for an employee. It is a straightforward process as it follows the layout of a pyramid (Meehan, 2012). The organisational structure indicates the method that an organisation employs to delineate lines of communication, authorities, policies and responsibilities. It determines the extent and nature of how leadership is disseminated throughout the organisation as well as the method by which information flows. A flat or hierarchical structure commonly adapts to an organisation (Goessl, 2010). Max Weber, a German sociologist that purposed different characteristics found in effective bureaucracies that would effectively conduct decision-making, control resources, accomplish organisational goals and protect workers (Business Mate, 2009). Ian Clark defines hierarchy as: ‘A social arrangement characterized by stratification in which, like angles, there are orders of power and glory and society is classified in successively subordinated grades’ (1989, pg.2). Clark’s quote describes hierarchy as having “orders of power” above others, which refers to the superior of the organisation. Below the superior are the next employees in line which are referred to in the quote as ‘medium powers and smaller powers.’ Everyone within this hierarchy works as a group to reach a goal.

Weber produced the idea of hierarchism when he was making observations regarding his organisation. He became concerned with the fact that people were in positions of authority not because of their job experience and capabilities, but because of their social status in the German society. For this very reason he believed that organisations failed to reach their performance potential. (Shermerhorn et al, 2011, Pg. 91) According to Astley (1988), Weber came up with the ideal type of hierarchy resonates with common experience in established domestic policies (pg. 202-203), which reflected in expression of support by citizens for their political leaders even though they may not respect them as individuals. (Lake, 2006, pg. 36)

Weber founded on the principles of logic, order and legitimate authority. The characteristics of Weber’s bureaucratic organisation include; clear division of labour, formal rules of authority and clear hierarchy of authority (Shermerhorn et al, 2011, Pg. 91-92). Clear division of labour is a form of specialization in which the production of a product or service is devised into several separate tasks, each performed by one person (Cengage, 2001). According to Weber’s design, the knowledge within the division of labour defines each employee’s job, giving them a “sphere of competence”, and the authority to persevere with individual tasks without interrupting others. Large scales are broken down into small manageable units and specialties that are then appointed to each individual (Shafritz & Ott, 2001, pg.134). This is an example of how different departments within a hierarchical system work in organisations. Formal rules of authority apply in a particular system such as an organisation where authority must be used to stabilize employees and guide them into the direction of the leaders. Authority helps prevent anarchy, and helps to define a clear hierarchy of decision-making. A clearly...
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