Organizational Behavior - Max Weber

Topics: Bureaucracy, Organization, Organizational studies Pages: 5 (1699 words) Published: June 23, 2012
An organization, put in simple terms is a group or assembly of people working alongside one another to achieve common goal or objective through a division of labor and or responsibilities. Business organizations in free market economies are formed to provide services or deliver goods to ultimate consumers for profit. Generally speaking, people form an organization because it provides a means of using individual strengths within a group to achieve more than can be accomplished by the aggregate efforts of group members working individually. Over time there have been several models and theories with respect to organizational function and essential characteristics. One model suggests that organizations at their core are information processing systems, where information includes knowledge about markets, products, production methods, management techniques, finance, laws, etc... and many other factors involved in running a business. In the end, the organization that can best process information will facilitate learning and the development of new knowledge. Another model suggests that organizations focus on traits such as power and subordination, culture and adaptation, and efficiency. From their creation, organizations will develop, adapt and evolve and so will the theories and models. Modern organizational theory is rooted in concepts developed during the Industrial Revolution. During that period was the research of Max Weber, a German sociologist. Weber based his model bureaucracy on legal and absolute authority, logic, and order. Weber believed that bureaucracies, staffed by bureaucrats, represented the ideal organizational form. In the bureaucracy, responsibilities for workers are clearly defined and behavior is controlled by rules, policies, and procedures. One can suggest that Weber’s bureaucracy mimicked a machine, people were arranged to perform specific functions, each of which worked in concert with another to form a streamlined process. This is similar to the many gears of a clock working together to keep time. Weber's theory on organizations reflected an impersonal and indifferent attitude toward the people working within the organization. Personal aspects of human behavior were not taken into consideration and in fact viewed as unreliable, hence a potential detriment to the efficiency of the system. Workers were likened to a bundle of skills that could be inserted into the system like a gear in a machine. However inhumane Weber’s theory may sound today he was justified when one takes into consideration the historical context that led to his way of thinking. In the late 1800s many European organizations were managed on a more personal and family like basis in which employees became loyal to the supervisor and not the organization. He believed that organizations should be managed impersonally and that a formal organizational structure, where specific rules were followed, was important. Authority should not be based on a person's personality; rather authority should be something that was part of a person's job and passed from individual to individual as one person left and another took over power would be handed down. This impersonal and objective form of organization was called a bureaucracy. Weber believed that all bureaucracies have the following characteristics: •A well-defined hierarchy. All positions within a bureaucracy are structured in a way that permits the higher positions to supervise and control the lower positions. This clear chain of command facilitates control and order throughout the organization. •Division of labor and specialization. All responsibilities in an organization are specialized so that each employee has the necessary expertise to do a particular task. •Rules and regulations. Standard operating procedures govern all organizational activities to provide certainty and facilitate coordination. •Impersonal relationships between managers and employees. Managers should maintain an...
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