Structure and Strategies of Control : a Replication of Aston Study

Topics: Bureaucracy, Max Weber, Organization Pages: 5 (1616 words) Published: August 22, 2013
Review on the paper by John Child titled Organization Structure and Strategies of Control : A Replication of Aston Study

By Group D1 Ganesh Shanker ( 13122 ) Alok Jain SP (13106)

Samarpita Datta (13145) Karan Kapoor (13127) Venu Madhav Madhura (13159)

Max Weber, a notable German administrative scholar contributed immensely to the study of bureaucracy, administrative discourses and literature. In his critical study of bureaucratization Weber listed growth in size and density of population being administered, the growth in complexity of administrative tasks being carried and the existence of monetary economy requiring a more efficient administrative system as the preconditions for the emergence of bureaucracy. Even though Weber’s writings have been widely discredited the bureaucratic form lives. Weber believed that a formal hierarchical structure where each level controls the level below and is controlled by the level above is the basis of centralized decision making. Weber supported controlling by rules as this resulted in decisions made at higher levels to be executed consistently by lower levels. He was also in support of work being done by specialists based on the skills they possess and that the purpose of the organization was to either serve the agency which empowered it or those within it. Equal treatment of employees was another agenda in his principles. He has concluded that when the organization is in sync with all his principles it will be negatively related to the centralization of decision making. Many writers have put forward alternative views but they too have not denied the validity and utility of bureaucratic model. The only theory which questions Weber’s work is the work of Pugh and his colleagues at the University of Aston. The well-known empirical study of Aston group has suggested that this one dimensional conception of bureaucracy is no longer useful. Based on a factor analysis of data gathered in 46 work organizations in English Midlands, the Aston researchers concluded that organization structure could be best described by four independent underlying dimensions-structuring of activities, concentration of authority, line control of work flow and relative size of supportive component. Based on these dimensions an organization’s degree of bureaucratization could be found out. They believed that an organization can be bureaucratic in any number of ways with classification of several broad type of organization structures. The study was conducted on various heterogeneous organizations many of which were nonprofit and data were collected by a detailed interview of the head of the organization and the departmental managers. Further investigation was done to ensure that Aston study was suitable for all possible types of organizations. Thus the new study was formulated keeping the methods of data collection in sync with the previous form. The Aston study thus suggests that

formalization and specialization vary together but are in turn independent of decentralization. This was in complete contrast with Weber’s theory. John Child in his replication study collects data samples from 82 British organizations. It is in one way similar to Aston’s study in choosing working organizations however differs in 4 distinct aspects. They being organizations are distributed all over Britain and Scotland (hence they are collectively termed as national samples), samples did not consider subunits or departments hence organizations were considered as one big unit, only business units were considered and last being samples were selected from just six industries. Industries considered were Electronics, pharmaceuticals, chocolates and sweets, advertising, insurance and daily newspaper. Child categorized these industries based on functions as manufacturing or service industry and based on environment as high variability and low variability. While classifying organizations under 2nd category various statistical data and...
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