Rational Theory

Topics: Management, Rationality, Bounded rationality Pages: 5 (1235 words) Published: April 18, 2013
This paper introduces Rational System Perspectives in relations to four promin ent schools of organization theory; which are Taylor’s scientific management, Fayol’s general principles of management, Weber’s theory of bureaucracy and Simon’s discussion on administrative behavior.

Rational System Perspectives
There are two key elements characterizing rational systems:
1) Goal Specificity
Specific goals support rational behavior in organizations by providing guideli nes on structural design, which leads to specify what tasks are to be performe d and how resources are to be allocated.

2) Formalization
Formalization is an attempt to make behavior more predictable by standardizing and regulating. Formalization provides stable expectation, which is a precond ition to rationality.

Selected schools
The author related rational system perspectives to four schools of organizatio nal theories.

Taylor’s Scientific Management (1911)
Taylor Scientifically analyzed tasks performed by individual workers and disco vered the best procedure that would produce the maximum output with the minimu m input of resources. His attempts (to rationalize labor at level of the indiv idual worker )led to changes in the entire structure of work arrangement. Ther efore, efficiency improved.

His four principles includes:
1) Develop a science for each element of an individual’s work. 2) Scientifically select and train workers.
3) Heartily cooperate with workers to ensure that each work is done as plan. 4) Divide work and responsibilities between management and workers. Taylor also proposed the use of incentive system based on performance as a mot ivation tool.

1) Workers resisted time-study procedures that attempt to standardize every as pect of their performance.
2) Workers rejected incentive system requiring them to perform continuously at a peak level of efficiency.

Fayol’s Administrative Theory (1916)
Fayol emphasized management functions by proposing broad administrative principles as guidelines to achieve rationalization of organizational activiti es.
Fayol’s and other supporters believed in two main types of management activi ties.
1) Coordination includes any elements related to collaborations of individuals such as scalar chain, unity of command, span of control and exception princip le.
2) Specialization involves various activities distributed among positions abou t how such positions can most effectively be grouped into work units. For exam ple, departmentalization, line-staff principle.

Herbert Simon was one of the main opponents of this theory. He commenced that so-called principles are truthful, but not realistic. Thus, they are inapplica ble (details will be discussed).

Weber’s Theory of Bureaucracy (1922)
Weber developed a theory of authority structures and describes organizational activity on the basis of authority relations. By building the structure, task responsibilities and decision-making authorities would be clearly defined. He proposed that rational-legal authority (the authority a person possesses be cause of his/her position in an organization, not because of wealth, social st atus or individual’s admirable character) provides the value to develop the u niversal authority structure called “bureaucracy”.

Weber’s ideal bureaucracy principles includes:
1) Division of labor. Jobs are broken down into simple, routine, and well-defi ned tasks.
2) Authority hierarchy. Positions are organized in a hierarchy, each lower one being controlled and supervised by a higher one.
3) Formal selection. Members are selected on the basis of technical qualificat ions (training, education of formal examination).
4) Formal rules and regulations. Managers must depend on formal rules to ensur e uniformity.
5) Impersonality. There is no personal preference of employees. 6) Career orientation. Managers do not own the units they manage. They work fo r salary and pursue their careers.
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