Assess the view that bureaucracy is the most efficient form of organization.

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Assess the view that bureaucracy is the most efficient form of organization

“The bureaucratization of society will, according to all available knowledge, some day triumph over capitalism, in our civilisation just as in ancient civilisations. In our civilisation also the “anarchy of production” will be supplanted in due course by an economic and social system similar to that typical of the Late Roman Empire, and even more so of the “New Kingdom” in Egypt or the sway of the Ptolemy’s”

(Gesammelte Aufsatze zur Sozial-und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, p.277)

When people hear the word bureaucracy several concepts come into their minds: government, red tape, paper work, corruption and the accumulation of power. These are just a few misconceptions that people have. A definition from a sociology dictionary defines bureaucracy as “A type of organization which administration is based upon impersonal, written rules and a hierarchy of offices. Domination based upon written rules, recruitment based upon qualification and offices that are impersonal and clearly distinguished from incumbents.” (Jary and Jary, 2000). What people forget is that bureaucracy were once conceptualised for there superior efficiency over other forms of organisation models. The machine like precision of a bureaucracy is its main strength; its ability to focus on work that needs to be completed without the distraction of personal consideration is uncompromising compared with other organisational structures.  It is true that bureaucracy can evolve and become a personification of a slow, inefficient, unproductive machine or robot, an un-motivating place to work where employees are restricted to become cogs in the machine, thereby destroying innovation and personal development. To fully understand the organisational structure that is bureaucracy we need to look at its original conception, subsequently we can look at its perceived advantages and dysfunctions.

Several theorists have made major contributions to the theories of bureaucracies. The classic theories of bureaucracy were formulated by Max Weber, Robert Michels, Bruno Rizzi, Karl Marx and elaborating on Marx’s work, Leon Trotsky (Lev Davidovich Bronstein) and Vladimir Ilycih Lenin. Among these theorists, Max Weber has made the biggest impact. Weber’s landmark contribution was made in his Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, which in turn was originally published in Grundriss der Sozialoekonomik (Henderson and Parsons, 1947). His work was based on his special interest of power and authority, born (e) from this interest; Weber established three types of authority, charismatic, traditional and rational-legal. Positions of authority in a Charismatic authority are selected on the basis of charisma, the belief that the ruler has special or unique personal qualities (Hassard, 2003). There is no fixed hierarchy of officials and no legal rules governing the organisation of leaders and followers. It is fluid but ill-defined (Haralambos and Holborn, 2000). Traditional authority is based on the belief that the ruler has a natural right to rule (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2001). The ruler is bound by no specific rules; he or she can make decisions based on considerations of utility or raison d'etat, of substantive ethical justice (Henderson and Parsons, 1947).  This structure is of little importance in contemporary societies (Haralambos and Holborn, 2000).

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Weber’s third type of authority, rational-legal, is the most fundamental of the three authorities. From this authority, Weber constructed a “pure” type of bureaucratic organisation, which he defined as “A hierarchical organisation designed rationally to coordinate the work of many individuals in the pursuit of large-scale administrative tasks and organisational goals.”(Haralambos and Holborn, 2000). Bureaucracy is a system of control; in order for control to be effective it must be legitimate. There are six elements which are the foundations of Weber’s “pure” type. “The regular activities required for the purposes of the organisation are distributed in a fixed way ...

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