Analyzing Problems in Schools and School Systems: A Theoretical Approach

By Alan Kibbe Gaynor | Go to book overview

5
Bureaucratic Theory

Experience tends universally to show that the purely bureaucratic type of administrative organization -- that is, the monocratic variety of bureaucracy -- is, from a purely technical point of view, capable of attaining the highest degree of efficiency and is in this sense formally the most rational known means of carrying out imperative control over human beings. It is superior to any other form in precision, in stability, in the stringency of its discipline, and in its reliability. It thus makes possible a particularly high degree of calculability of results for the heads of the organization and for those acting in relation to it. It is finally superior both in intensive efficiency and in the scope of its operations, and is formally capable of application to all kinds of administrative tasks.

-- Max Weber ( 1947, p. 337)

More has been written about organizations from a bureaucratic perspective than from any other. The organizational literature is replete not only with research and analyses based on bureaucratic theory itself, but with adaptations and extensions of bureaucratic theory and research, analyses, and critiques of the theory and of variations on the bureaucratic theme. These include theories, studies, instruments, and critiques of various aspects of organizations as bureaucratic structures, tensions involving people in bureaucratic organizations, as well as related concepts such as decision making, leadership, motivation, organizational politics, and systems the ory. Even cultural, critical theory, and poststructural perspectives on organizations represent reactions to traditional views of bureaucracy.


AN OVERVIEW OF MAX WEBER'S WORK ON BUREAUCRACY

It is interesting that so much has been written about bureaucracy in the corporate context when, in contrast, Max Weber's work focused on bureaucracy in governmental administration. In fact, he expressed concern about the danger of bureaucratic officials usurping the legitimate authority of political leaders ( Bendix, 1960):

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