Essays On Power And Authority

Essays On Power And Authority-88
Firstly we would look at various definitions of bureaucracy drawn from other writers. Bureaucracy as a concept has come a long way, beginning from France in the eighteenth century.Bureaucracy in its ideal form is a “rationalized moral alternative to the common practices of nepotism and other abuses of power that were rampant in the feudal preindustrial world from which the modern industrial organization emerged” (Hatch, 2006, p. Bureaucracies rely on combination of rules, procedures, documentation and behavioral monitoring to achieve control and seek to place a standard on behavior and the reward for compliance with established rules and regulation (Hatch, 2006, p. Bureaucracy can be seen as a primary drive through which rationality is used as an instrument within the modern society so as to exclude alternative criteria for action. It originates from the French word for an office “bureau” rule of the bureau.Bureaucracy as an important aspect of rationalizing modernity still endures because some certain characteristics of bureaucracy cannot be avoided in order for an efficient and effective running of an organization.

Weber explained that the closer a company is to his model, the more efficient it was likely to become.

Bureaucratic control depends upon the existence of a legitimized hierarchy of authority to administer the bureaucratic mechanisms and closely supervise and direct subordinates (Beetham, 1996, p. It is argued that “Weber failed to recognize the ambivalent character of bureaucracy, partly because studies of organization were in their infancy in the early decades of the century and also because his ideas were unduly influenced by Prussian army and the Taylorian system” (Beetham, 1996, p. It can also be argued that bureaucracy is gradually being replaced due to requirements of entrepreneurial development which gives room for individual innovations (Casey 2004, p.59).

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In the 19th century, Germany experienced great success in its use; it was used in both its armed forces and civil administration (Clegg, Kornberger, & Tyrone, 2008).

Weber discovered that the modernity of Germany was made possible mainly because of the discipline of bureaucracy .Weber’s view of bureaucracy was a tool for unequaled technical advantage.He wrote that “…precision, speed and unambiguity, knowledge of files , continuity , discretion, unity , strict subordination, reduction of friction and material and personal cost are raised to an optimum point in the strictly bureaucratic administration”. The outcome of this process of rationalization, Weber suggests is the production of a new type of person: the specialist (Clegg, Kornberger, & Tyrone, 2008).It was used in the military to exhibit discipline, using acts such as “goose stepping”, it assured the generals of the complete obedience of their recruits to order, and for civilians it meant that the men were drilled like machines to eliminate insubordination and individualism (Clegg, Kornberger, & Tyrone, 2008, p. As modern industrial organizations emerged in Germany they incorporated some of this form of ruling and it was a success, by the 20th century it became popular, the United States increasingly started adopting it for modern management, especially after the World War 1 when they noticed that the German economy had significantly improved.Bureaucratic forms were also developed internationally as a superstructure on a rationalized basis produced by systems such as that of Fredrick Taylor; these rational superstructures triggered Weber’s productive research inquiries into the nature of rationality, rules and bureaucracy (Clegg, Kornberger, & Tyrone, 2008, p. Weber’s view of bureaucracy was as an instrument of unrivaled technical superiority, he wrote that precision, speed and clarity, knowledge of files, continuity, discretion, unity, strict subordination, reduction of friction and material and personal cost are raised to the optimum point in the strictly bureaucratic administration; Bureaucracy was a rational machine and was based on how peoples in an organization use the rules of an organization as an everyday guide to management (Clegg, Kornberger, & Tyrone, 2008, p. Bureaucracy is supposed to be a system of administration continuously executed by trained professionals following set rules; according to Weber, system administration has to meet all the characteristics of a bureaucracy before it can be called one (Beetham, 1996, p. Examples of everyday bureaucracies include the Armed forces and Corporations such as General motors and NASA.People obey orders rationally because they believe that the person giving the order is acting in accordance with a code of legal rules and regulations.For Weber, the modern organization differed from other forms of organization because of its rationalization of authority and legality; The rational-legal bureaucrat was similarly characterized by technical and professional expertise (Casey,2004 p.65).Bureaucracy has to a large extent contributed immensely to the growth of modern organization and in its contributions lays some weaknesses that result from the application of its features in the following paragraphs.Bureaucracy is characterized by high formalization which is defined as the degree to which rules procedures, regulations and communications are written and filed (Walton, 2005, p. Everything should be done by the book and this leads to the feeling of impersonality often associated with bureaucratic organizations that does not allow employees to be committed emotionally to the pursuit of economic efficiency, which is the overall goal of the organization; it restricts them because of culture of impersonality and detachment (Stokes & Clegg, 2002, p. Employees must share a managerial vision of their organization’s culture and be prepared to go an extra mile to achieve it, not just to following rules, rules should be bent sometimes to ensure that a desired outcome is achieved, there is a limit to how much of your work you can rely on policy and guideline (Clegg, Kornberger, & Tyrone, 2008, p. Therefore, Bureaucracy strangles individualism because everything has to be done in a machine-like manner.Bureaucracy has been studied for a long time now and many organizations have adopted this model in the day to day running of their organization.The aim of this essay is to explore the “Ideal type” bureaucracy developed by Max Weber, its characteristics, the role of power and authority on it and its strengths and weaknesses.


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