Weber's Theory Of Bureaucracy

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The word Bureaucracy has been coined using two words; ‘Bureau’ means office in French and ‘Kratos’ means power, hence bureaucracy in most simplistic of terms, means ‘power of office’ (Hummel, 1998). Bureaucracy is always considered to be carrying a negative meaning attached to it, mainly because at times it can become too complex, inflexible, inefficient and dehumanizing. These complexities attached with bureaucracy carry so much weight in the strategy of modern organizations that reducing bureaucracy has become central to modern managerial practice. A discussion on bureaucracy can never be complete without mention of eminent German sociologist Max Weber. In words of Weber, bureaucracy is a construct to explain or justify authority and decision…show more content…
Out of these, ‘legal-rational authority’ forms the basis for Weber’s theory on bureaucracy. A society grows because it needs various services like health, education, transportation and other forms of civil services. This causes the work to be divided with specialized workers working on it such that society’s needs could be met. To substantiate bureaucratic organizations scientifically, Weber introduced the term ‘ideal types’. An ideal type is understandable and has no ambiguity, it is constructed on a purely rational course of action. ‘The key characteristics of ideal type of bureaucracy that Weber theorizes are division of labor, hierarchal order, written documents, well-trained staff and experts, full working capacity of the officials and application of impersonal rules’ (Crozier, 1964). There are various upsides to bureaucracy, in a bureaucracy work can be divided into smaller units and can be completed by individuals/groups in an industrious manner,…show more content…
Secondly, Weber does not take into account the role of informal relationships and elements in affecting the performance of an organization. There are various informal elements associated with every organizations performance like: leadership, communication, networks, motivation and others. These elements coupled with formal structures as stated in Weber’s bureaucracy play a huge role in making any organization successful. Weber though chose to focus mainly on typically formal structures like: specialization, rules, hierarchy among others and completely discounted the informal elements. However in the contemporary management studies, these elements are prime matter of concern. Barnard states, ‘informal organizations are necessary to the operation of formal organizations as a mean of communication, of cohesion, and of protecting the integrity of the individuals’ (Barnard, 1966). Without informal structures and increasing rationality, there remains a fear of systems termed as ‘Iron cage’. An iron cage binds people in systems based entirely on technological efficiency, increased rational calculation and control. Weber acknowledged excessive bureaucratization of organizations as ‘the polar night if icy darkness’. ‘In sociology, the iron cage is a term coined by Max Weber for the increased rationalization inherent in social life, particularly in Western capitalist societies. The iron cage thus traps individuals in systems based purely on teleological efficiency, rational
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