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Bureaucracy And Organization

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Autor:  anton  02 July 2011
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JOKO1102 Introduction to Management and Organization


Fabrizio Bertoglio

(Numbers of words 6952)


As Etzioni puts it “we are born in organisations, educated by organizations, and most of us spend much of our lives working for organisations”.

This simple sentence let us understand the importance of bureaucracy in our daily life and the reason that push me to study them.

I’ve been interested in it and decided to more deeply study the characteristic of this type of organizations, interest that drive me in writing this essay. The writing was constantly following my research of information, this give to my essay the following structure:




Weber Political Sociology








The structure of my essay follow different theories of organization, each of them found numerous advantages or disadvantages of certain system. I will deeply them and end with a general conclusion.


Bureaucracy is nowadays a terms associated with a negative meaning. The word is often utilized to describe inefficient organisation incapable to take rapid decision, costly and paralyzed by their complex system of work. In few words a “clock-work-orange” moving a lot of gears in a synchronized manner, but producing no movement at all.

It has not always been like that, on the opposite the bureaucratic system was introduced by Napoleon for the exact opposite reason.

Decisions had to be taken, also in the huge macro system of the national state French organisation:

• Within the state legal system,

• Within a hierarchical organisation,

• With a clear communication Top-Down

• Within the power of attorney assigned to a new professional governmental-figure, civil servant, removing those from the control of the aristocracy.

In order to define and to control the civil servant decision-power it was developed a complex system capable to work within a package of rules. The aim was also to release the “civil servant” of his direct personal responsibility generated by the use of the power of his post. If you act by correct application of the norms you are not responsible for the outcome.

Bureaucracy, in its initial meaning, was in fact in the transfer of the responsibility from the individual to the bureau, releasing in this way the individuals from the personal burden of their decision. It represents a step in the “modern age” were the individual responsibility is limited to the respect of a set of rules or to a particular area.

Bureaucracy may be objectively defined as administration over an organization, using written regulations and centralized procedures. In nineteenth century liberals have utilized the word to criticize rigid rules and mismanagement in authoritarian governments.

A first approach to the bureaucracy was done by Max Weber. In his view bureaucracy is a rational organisation based on competence and specialisation required by the needs of the modern industrial complex society. Bureaucracy is due to expand inevitably to all sector of state organisation, inside the political parties and in public and private companies Max Weber.

After Weber a lot of criticism was expressed with the description of the dangers linked to an excess of bureaucratisation, which could damage the democratic functioning of the society and the state. Strict links between totalitarian Russian policy and bureaucratic management of the power capable to by-pass the democratic control of the state were analysed by Bruno Buozzi in “Il Collettivismo Burocratico” and James Burnham.

Degeneration of the original concept (act within rules) created in the time any type of abuse of the bureaucratic system up to the justification of the most criminal decisions taken in respect of the “set of rules” such as Nazism and other totalitarian governments.

The mismanagement of the power, the complexity of the rules and uncertainty of the allocation of the personal responsibility in the bureaucratic system created often point of power generating bribery, corruption, nepotism,

Last potential anti-democratic evolution of bureaucracy is what has been defined in the after war period the “techno-bureaucracy”. This is represented by the power of techno-agencies (public and private) owner of highly sophisticated and specialized know ledges capable to operate in absolute independency. Herbert Marcuse stated that techno bureaucracy is one of the major dangers for the modern democracy. It is so dangerous that it would be preferable to step back in some of the new technologies made available. Alain Tourain instead in is has a more pessimistic view, concluding that in the post industrial age these risks are not avoidable.

Niskamen (1971) has probably centred the core of the problem in the modern bureaucracy emphasizing that in a bureaucratic system all managers generate the base for the strengthening of their own department by maximizing the budget of their own office regardless of public economy or interest generating in this way goods and services in excess towards the demand. A circle of again a sort of self- feeding “clock work-orange”.


Definition of association and bureaucracy

Firstly we distinguish the difference between association and bureaucracy that are often confused. An association is defined as “a group of individual with a common goal who have come together and formed themselves into an institution with explicit rules and regulations governing membership (Elliot Jaques, 1976)”.

Associations differ from their time-span; permanent associations are trade-unions, employers’ associations, institutionalized clubs, churches, universities, political parties and institutions. MacIver and Page include also nations, topic subjected to great discussions, for the nation’s particular power over their citizens. Elliot Jaques considering nation as association, explain easily the interrelation between association and bureaucracy.

Association in order to pursue their aim can “authorize their governing body to employ outsiders to help (Elliot Jaques, 1976)”. Here we can distinguish bureaucracies from associations that establish them. Different author make confusion on this limit that divide bureaucracies from associations, instead Weber uses a more consistent definition based on the principle of appointment. As he explains “election makes it impossible to attain a stringency of discipline even approaching that in the appointed type (Weber, 1947)”.

Bureaucracy is defined for our purposes as a hierarchically stratified managerial employment system in which people are employed to work for a wage or salary; that is to say, a stratified employment hierarchy with at least one manager who in turn has a staff of employed subordinates.

They are secondary as they cannot be formed directly in their own right, dependent in the sense that their continued existence depends upon the continued existence of the employing body.

We need to make different distinction and exclusion on bureaucracy.

• The distinction between the corporate group (association) and the administrative staff (bureaucracy). We refer to Weber’s central concept of rationalization, the establishment in society of more and larger bureaucracies, thereby increasing the number of role relationships governed by bureaucratic rules and regulations.

• We don’t use the term “bureaucratic” for all organizations that has become monolithic and ensnared by its regulations and hamstrung by red tape that as Crozier puts it, cannot learn from its own errors (M Crozier; 1965).

• The term bureaucratic is applied to all employment hierarchies.

• Our definition exclude those systems of professional colleagues such as doctors in hospitals, teaching staffing universities, lawyers in partnerships as Parsons points out in his introduction to The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, such considerations would alter Weber’s perspective of several issues.

All this distinctions have to be taken in our study of bureaucracies.

Our definition is limited to Weber’s concept of bureaucratic administrative staff. The alternative usage in which all institution are brought together in only one called bureaucracy could be misleading, putting bureaucracies and association in the same analytic category.

The employment contract and human judgment

The employment contract is a fundamental part of my theoretical introduction.

To join a bureaucracy you must apply for a job, be selected and appointed to that job. The mode of appointment is to be given a contract of employment. The employment contract indicates-either explicitly or implicitly- the kind of work a person is expected to do, the role he will occupy to begin with, and the conditions of his employment, including his remuneration. With the employment contract the employee agrees to be accountable to the governing body for the quality of his work, and to recognize that if the governing body is not satisfied it is entitled to dispense with his services

The security of his employment will depend to a large degree upon the way the institution is financed.

Concerned with the subject of human judgment, basic issue is the case of disagreement about the adequacy of the employee’s work with the governing body then it is the judgement of the governing body which has the overriding force. It’s the judgment of the governing body that counts; there are no processes that make the decisions automatically. It’s becoming common the process of technocracy, where the traditional judgment is substituted with automatic processes, but the human ability is lost in the process.

The judgment for a head of a government department or of a social service it’s more hard that for an industrial company. Industrial companies have clear profits and return of capital, while public enterprises not. It is possible to understand how many services a department has done, but to estimate that the department has done good result under the conditions obtaining is a harder human judgment.

Security of employment

The process of appointment to a bureaucratic institution is characterized by a two-stage process: first, appointment by employment contract, second, assignment to a particular role in the bureaucratic system. The process of leaving an institution had the same two-stage scheme, firstly through the removal from the role, secondly with the termination of the employment.

Trough this two-stage process we denote three degrees of security of tenure:

• Limited tenure, the employees could be removed from his role or dismissed from the enterprise within the period of notice prescribed from the employment contract.

• Institutional tenure, the employees could be removed from his role to another one, at the same level or at a different level in the same enterprise, but he can’t be dismissed in normal circumstances.

• Role tenure, the individual may not be in normal circumstances de-selected, transferred or dismissed.

Important element that conditions employment security is the finance revenue of the enterprise. On this basis he will have the ability to offer employment securities.

Revenue for bureaucratic organizations could be raised in two ways: first by means of grants from funds collected by the governing body and allocated to the bureaucratic organization; and second by means of funds which are in part raised by the governing body but mainly earned by the bureaucratic organization itself by selling the goods or services it produces and which the governing body allows to remain available to defray its running expenses. Those two revenues are called grant-income and earned-income. The most important grant-income institutions are the central and local government department and services that raise their money from taxation.

Earned-income institution may be either private enterprises or government-controlled. Usually in this type of enterprises the government is responsible directly for raising capital finance, the employees members in the bureaucratic hierarchy are responsible for earning that excess of income over expense which assures continuity of revenue finance and the survival of the executive establishment.

Grant-income institutions are not subjected to the direct consumer power, where the consumer power is expresses trough the government decision, representing the electorate. Earned-income institutions are influenced from the changing preferences of the customer and failure in costumer satisfaction has immediate effects. In the earned-income institution the governing body provides capital, but not income. The following institution need to achieve profitable performance.


The classical writings and especially the Weberian ideal type of bureaucracies has become the basis of subsequent theories, by limiting their scope, have tried to treat in a more rigorous and empirical manner some of the problems examined by the classical theorists.

Weber political sociology

Max Weber the theory of social and economical organization

In order to understand Weber’s idea of bureaucracy we need to explain Weber’s theory of domination. Domination refers to a power relationship between the Ruler, who imposes his will on the others with the right over others to exercise power; and the ruled consider it their duty to obey his orders. On this depends the stability of the systems of domination. When domination involve a large amount of people the bridge dividing ruler and ruled had to be filled by the activity of an administrative apparatus. The idea of legitimation and administrative apparatus are two of the main ideas of Weber.

There are three principles of legitimation:

- Charismatic domination where the ruler justified his right of domination with his extraordinary capacity and deeds. His disciples accept his domination because they have faith in his person. The administrative apparatus connecting ruled and ruler is the most faithful disciple.

- Traditional domination where the leadership is recognized from the believe in the eternal past, in the rightness and appropriateness of the traditional way of doing things. The leader or master command for virtue of inherited status. His subjects obey out of personal loyalty to him or out of respect to his traditional status. When this domination is extended over great number of people and a wide territory its administrative apparatus can have two different forms:

- Patrimonial form where the officials of the apparatus are personal retainers and usually depend on their master trough remuneration.

- Feudal apparatus that have a greater degree of autonomy from the master. They exercise independence jurisdiction, they own their administrative domain and they are not dependent on their superior of remuneration and subsistence.

- Legal domination based on the belief in the rightness of the rule, because generated from a corrected process. The ruler is considered as a superior that come to this position for virtues, trough democratic elections or appointment. These rules delineate in a rationale way the hierarchy of the apparatus, the right and duties of every position, the methods of recruitment and promotion and so on.

Those are pure models made from Weber to explain the reality, but are found in the world with mixed combination of different factors.

The increasing bureaucratisation of modern society

When Weber is speaking of bureaucratization he is especially concerned with the emergence of the modern state, where bureaucracy had prevailed on a large scale. His definition is wider; refers to bureaucracy as a type of organization always more penetrated with the social institution. His definition is based on his idea of rationalisation, considering the process of bureaucratization as a system of impersonal and rational rules aiming at maximum efficiency. This rationalisation of work is to be seen in its extreme form in the American system of scientific management witch “enjoys the greatest triumphs in the rational conditioning and training of work performance”.

The employees lost in freedom, understanding the aim of the organization and his work are consequences of this process; giving draw to a new type of employer, the specialist.

For better understanding his idea we have to distinguish Weber’s two basic notion of rationalisation:

• “The methodical attainment of a definitely given and practical end by means of an increasingly precise calculation of means”. Here the focus is on the means, their adequacy or inadequacy to an end, even if this end has a religious or mystical basis.

• “The kind of rationalisation the systematic thinker performs on the image of the world: an increasing theoretical mastery of reality by means of increasingly precise and abstract concepts”. In a negative sense, this process of rationalisation is leading to a continuous explaining the world, leading to the end of all religion and believes.

Weber demonstrates his believe in the growing rationalisation with the concept of “historical movement” where the tension between the charisma representing the creativity and the spontaneous movement of society toward rationalisation and routine, it’s one of the main theme in Weber’s work.

The historical process, that see the charismatic leader as the revolutionary forces that comes when the rationalisation and regularization is too much rigid and unfit to meet difficult situations, this led to the new disruptive forces to gain a new balance.

The charismatic leader will led also to routine, establishing a discipline and rationalisation based on his charismatic and special personality. The new organization will be hostile to any type of charismatic manifestation. With this historical movement Weber describe a world moving towards rationalisation, where if bureaucracy is not identified in it, constitutes an important aspect of it.

On one hand he considers bureaucracy as the most efficient form of organisation invented by man, but on another he’s afraid of it. An increasing bureaucratization could become a great threat for humanity and to the democratic institution of Western societies.

Bureaucracy and the problem of power

Bureaucratization often seems a dangerous trend for the growing power that this class could get, especially for different advantages that give to the bureaucrats a particular status.

The bureaucrat has the duty of impartiality, expert knowledge and obedience to superiors.

In the case his personal opinion differs from those of his superior, he has to put them aside and follow the wants of his superior. The responsibility for the bureaucrats is limited in the way that he has to execute his assigned task. He doesn’t have responsibility for further effect of his assigned task or for the efficiency of the policy. Also in this case we can distinguish the two tasks, the politician that has to choose the policy and get the votes on it; the bureaucrat that has to apply the policy chosen from the political class.

Those are pure considerations that don’t have the same effect in the practical application. Weber analyzes different problems that make diverge the social reality from the ideal formulation. Thus in the charismatic way of domination there is the problem of depersonalization of charisma, as decentralization in the traditional domination. In the legal type of domination we can see the struggle between the bureaucratic class and the political one. This struggle is moved from the bureaucrats with their great knowledge of the subject. The politician is led in a position of disadvantage and can’t well control the bureaucratic work. This disadvantage is aggravated in the non-democratic system where the monarch is dependent solely upon the bureaucrat.

Other characteristic give to the bureaucracy a particular status. Relevant is the extensively use of the official secret, often with aim of self-defence against the criticism by outsider.

All those characteristic give great power to the bureaucrats, but there some limits given to them. The bureaucrat does not own material means of administration, he lost much of the autonomy and power given to the feudal officer. Most of the bureaucrats don’t belong to the propertied class and are afraid to loose their jobs. Other disadvantage is their internal struggle that push them in great competition to gain promotions and advantage from their master.

All this characteristic get us understand how much bureaucracy has dangerous powers, but can’t overexpansion his functions without the help of other social forces.

Bureaucracy and democracy. In this section we consider Weber’s theory on the trend of bureaucratization and democratization.

On one hand the method of bureaucratic recruitment, based on diplomas and examination, brings a certain levelling of social differences. Those methods are based on the democratic ideas of equality of everyone before the law, indeed this type of academic education is often available only for who have the material need to undertake the long study required. If the impersonality of the rules would protect the individual from the arbitrariness of the officers, his legal formalism will frustrate the need of social justice.

A second important point is the conception of democratic administration, similar to the Marxist idea. A democratic administration has to give every member of the society administrative task, trough rotation in office and frequent election, giving to officers minimum powers.

Weber recognises the impossibility of applying this concept in wide society.

A century before Weber, De Tocqueville, studied in U.S.A. the dysfunctions and dangers of a too much democratic administration. De Tocqueville understood how bureaucrats with unstable and temporary office become victim of corruption, local political bosses and bribery, but he was also aware from the dangers of an excessive centralized system and the tendency to Totalitarianism. Although those theories, Weber recognizes that the bureaucratic autonomy was often going too much far from the real needs of bureaucracy, becoming a treat for society.

All this consideration are right, but with the clear example of “the slaves in older times were also indispensable for the functioning of society, but this did not make them politically dominant (Mouzelis; 1975)” we understand which tendency Weber predict in society.

Bureaucracy with his impersonality of bureaucratic apparatus, its rational articulation can well function under different masters and be a good instrument of society if well used by who know how to gain control of it.

Bureaucracy and capitalism. If the final tendencies of bureaucratization has shown positive effect, like abolition of local and feudal privileges attributed with the feudal system, helping the development of the large-scale commerce and industry, it often undertake the initiative and entrepreneurial spirit which is the driving force of capitalism, with the aversion to risk taking and the bureaucratic craving for securities to the whole population, with government intervention and regulation of the economy.

Weber at his time, with the socialist movement sees the danger of the increasing domination of the government bureaucracy, leading to a Totalitarian regime.


Despite there are different point of inefficiencies and dangers discovered trough the analyse of bureaucracy, with a final conclusion Weber consider bureaucracy a simple tool at the service of its legitimate masters and the danger of leading to his expansion of power is related with the external forces operating upon it.


Max Weber studied the relevant trend of rationalization in one of the most relevant cases of his time, bureaucracies. George Ritzer in his book The Mcdonaldization of society studied the same trend in the example of the fast-food restaurant, that become the new model of rationality founding different point of inefficiency in the Weber studies. Ritzer in his studies was following Weber’s idea of formal rationality that is the “search by people for the optimum means to a given end is shaped by rules, regulations and larger social structures”. In ancient times people had to discover such mechanism, now with this process there are rules and regulations that will help people in making their decision and work; allowing less room for individual variation and creativity. As we say before and replied by Ritzer, Weber praises bureaucracies, but also recognizes the irrationality of the rational system. Although this Weber considered bureaucracies as the most efficient system as employing the four elements of formal rationality:

1. efficiency

2. predictability

3. quantify

4. control

But what was designed to be really rational operation end up growing quite irrational. Weber was aware of this system, calling it the “iron cage of irrationality” seeing a future where rational system and organization will grow up and those men could only have possibility to move from one rational system to another, without escape. Highly related with those studies is the case of Ritzer, with the rationalization of recreational activities.

Interesting is imaging an American tourist taking a trip for Europe, an all-included package tour that rationalized the process. Staying in Hilton Hotel, for his standardized and qualified service, eating at a MacDonald the same food cooked in the same way are only few example of rationalized services and products nowadays.

From the point of view of Ritzer we fall in the nightmare of irrationality made by Weber.



The core ideas of the theory were developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor in the 1880s and 1890s and give rise to the scientific management movement. For Taylorism the individual worker constitutes the main unit of analysis and the emphasis is on the detailed study of the physical operations which are relevant for the performance of the task. The system is similar to a machine model that trusts the individual like an instrument or machine to well use for a better performance.

Time study, job analysis and other techniques are only simple tool that scientific management is usually using to help the analysis of the industrial organisation or facilitate its rationalisation. The starting point of Taylor, a foreman that failed in trying to maximise the work of his employees with the traditional methods, was to find the objective way to measure the time necessary to complete a work. Those estimates involve the following process:

1. Detailed analysis and registration of the movements of a specific task

2. The whole working process is broken down to simple operations

3. Each operation being timed

4. Unnecessary movement are eliminated

5. The work process is reconstructed in a simplified, rational way.

According to Taylor to apply efficiently those methods and maximise the production of the workforce, all the factor entering the working situation have to be standardised as well (machine speeds, tools, supply of raw materials, etc.). The management function of the companies move from the individual worker to an organisational wider dimension concerned with: relations between the various workplaces, rational regulation of the work-flow, routing, storing and accounting techniques, methods of supervision, functional foremanship and so on.

All this system had to be accepted from the workforce, for this aim Taylor constructs the wage-incentive system, which will stimulate the worker to keep up with the standards set by the management engineer.

Co-operation is another essential pre-condition for the implementation of scientific management. According to Taylor view, if the co-operation between managers and workers is not achieved, all the other principles are useless. The main theme is the relationship with trade unions that was negatively considered from Taylor. Taylor idea to gain co-operation was that if “the natural laws governing work and production are discovered, the determination of the proper amount of pat can be determined in an objective, scientific way. Consequently if everybody adheres to the laws of the situation, there is no place for bargaining and quarrel; one cannot bargain about scientific facts (Mouzelis; 1975)”. Taylor was fundamentally against trade unions activity.

Later the advocates of scientific management realized that is necessary collaborate with trade unions for the implementation of their methods in industry and obtain their support.

Taylorism neglected the psychological and sociological variables of organizational behaviour. Taylor was not completely aware of the existence of feelings between the workers and that this was associated with other workers in the factory, but he considered all this variables of irrelevant importance with the theme of productivity.

Overall scientific management follows all the basic elements of formal rationality, created a nonhuman technology that exerted great control over workers. Employees worked more efficiently under Taylor methods (predictability), and they gain a great surplus of production while their pay increases slightly (calculability).

To gain the best performance each work was divided in different means and the organization in different subunits. Each worker was responsible of simple operations in the “machine of the organization”; those had to be done following standard method. The workers had to be selected for their appropriate job, related with their abilities and planned for eliminate any type of interruption of the assembly line. Training was also standardized and wage incentives given to push for better individual performance.


Like all system scientific management had its irrationalities. As we said before it treats people like animals or mechanical robots. Most workers skills and abilities were not used. This was one of the reasons that let Japanese industry outstripped American industry.

1. It ignores individual differences: the most efficient way of working for one person may be inefficient for another. Creating uniform manner of work, it might cause other psychological disturbance to the worker. The fact that the quickest way to do a job may not be the best way.

2. It ignores the fact that the economic interests of workers and management are rarely identical, so that both the measurement processes and the retraining required by Taylor's methods would frequently be resented and sometimes sabotaged by the workforce.

3. It ignores any type of democracy. For Taylor democracy was meaning no exception for anybody, no negotiations, no voting, no strikes any personal initiatives.

Despite being the prophet of the USA productivity the “scientific management” was strongly criticized. Taylorism becomes also one of the strongest references for totalitarian regimes (communist, fascism...). The president of USA work commission William Wilson stated that Mr Taylor’s theory were not liberate workers, but rather made them slaves.


If Taylor with his Scientific Management change the way of working in the world and highly maximizes production; he produced a nonhuman technology that exerted great control over workers. Following the aim of efficiency, calculability and predictability he treated workers like animals or mechanical robots and lost most of their skills. This Taylor revolution was one of the reasons why American industry was outstripped by the Japanese one.

Although this Taylor model change the way of producing and had his great influence in the future activity as we can see from the assembly line and the McDonald case.

The assembly line like bureaucracy had all the elements of formal rationality. It’s an efficient system for manufacturing products. It’s a predictable system, the work is simplified and the end products are always the same. Any mistake it’s clearly visible from the end product. The assembly line permits quantification of many elements of the production process and maximization of production.

The assembly line permits the maximum control over workers that are treated like “human robots”.

The most obvious example is the conveyor belt used by Burger King to cook its hamburger. Also relevant are the example of McDonald and his organization of the employees. Workers are instructed on how to cook and prepare the hamburgers, with simple and standardized steps; like an assembly line.

The growing trend upon the rationalized assembly line its always more relevant and its affecting different sectors, an other example its General Motors with Alfred Sloan, which rationalized the automobile industry’s bureaucratic structure.

Ray Kroc and the McDonald Brothers: Creating the “Fast-Food Factory”. The basic ideas on the foundation of McDonald restaurant is speed, volume, and low price applied trough the assembly line. McDonald is a practical example of different principles taken from bureaucracies, scientific management and the assembly line and applied in the fast-food market; representing the culmination of rationalization processes that had been developing in the twentieth century. Ray Kroc spearheaded a series of developments that further rationalized the fast food business. The principles of Kroc’s business are “uniformity, standardized menu, one size portions, same prices, same quality in every store (Ritzer, 1992)” that allowed McDonald from its competition, whose food was typically inconsistent. The foundation of Hamburger University in 1961 and the publication in 1958 of the operations manual designed to spell out how a franchise has to be run; it’s the clear example of standardization of processes and work.

McDonald it’s the clear example of the influence of rationalization in the present world and it apply all the five dimension of it, efficiency, calculability, predictability, increased control through substitution of nonhuman for human technology- the irrationality of rationality.


1. Hawthorne and the evolution of empirical research in industry

The chief aim of Hawthorne research is to examine working conditions as they are related to output and generally to classify the numerous problems arising in the working situation. Hawthorne was researching a relation between illuminations, fatigue and so on with worker’s performance. To demonstrate the relationship between those different variables, there were different test, where in a test room different independent variables (like illumination) was changed and others kept constant; measuring the impact on the output. In the later evolution of the following studies, the researcher understand that the influence of illumination and fatigue on worker’s performance in dependent on the meaning that this workers give to it. The test room had been replaced by a method of interview. This method it’s more efficient because it will consider not only external fact (like the grade of illumination and fatigue), but also internal fact (like how it’s the illumination related with the individual). The research team tries firstly to found employees dissatisfaction and satisfaction trying to understand their morale and then explore these attitudes by means of the interviewee’s personal history and background.

The investigators realize that the explanation of workers’ attitude and behaviour have to be researched in the personality characteristics acquired in the plant, instead that the socially acquired ones.

The worker is not anymore perceived as an individual psychological being but as a group member, whose behaviour is greatly controlled by group norms and values. The research become more sociological and the method of research change for the third time. The interview method is complemented with the direct observation of the group at work.

2. Mayo and the orthodox school

The Mayoites concentrated their attention on the behavioural variables of the organization:

”to put it over simply, we would try to do this by drawing an arbitrary and imaginary line around an organisation and treating the actual behaviour that went on inside as the phenomena to be firstly observed and in time to be explained (F.J. Roethlisberger in Koontz, p.45)”.

Formal variables (the rules and activities required by the organization) and the different values and pattern behaviour that the individuals learn from outside the plant, constitute the boundary conditions, the limiting context of activity to be studied.

This variables are continues interdependent. Any change in one drive the same variance in the other one, driving the system to the original state. This is a system of equilibrium that is concretised by a mechanical system of punishment and rewards.

The main distinction made by Mayoites in the organizational behaviour is the existence of formal and informal organizations. Informal organization refers mainly to values and to patterns of behaviour which are not instigates by formal rules and policies, but arise normally from the interaction of people working together. On the other hand the formal organisation refers to official rules and to behaviour stipulated by them.

Mayo and the orthodox school are trying to explore such aspects of organisational behaviour as motivation, morale, group cohesion and their relations to productivity. The result was the discovered of the impact of the group life on workers behaviour.

The logics of sentiments, the group norms, were different, even opposed, to the logics of management. The group rules determine the proper amount of a day’s wok. The group member cannot disregard these rules without suffering the ensuing unofficial sanctions. With this rules internal strife and competition between workers is avoided and solidarity is increased.

If management denies the informal organisation and its values, result in the break down of communications between the top and the bottom of the hierarchy.

The management has to restore good communications with the informal organisation, making sure that informal norms are in harmony with organisational goals; creating in the plant an harmonious society where formal and informal organisation are well integrated and in co-operation.

3. The interactionist approach

The interactionist approach pays more attention on what people feel and think (sentiments) than to what they do (activities) and to the manner in which they contact each other (interactions). In this way they want to rely as much as they can on observation of concrete measurable behaviour and for this purpose they insist on the use of operational concepts.

The interactionist approach is characterized by the following steps:

- the identification of the interacting persons

- the registration of the order of the interacting events.

- The measurement of the duration and the frequency of interactions.

The sequence, frequency and duration of interactions depend in great part on the work flow, on the way materials are processed from one work post to the other in time. Important classical management theory as line authority, line and staff relationship, are redefined in an operational non-formalistic way, namely in terms of concrete interactions, initiations and responses among the various members of the organisation. The famous informal organization of the orthodox school becomes a residual category of relationships defined as “those events of interpersonal stimulation among members of the flow work outside the order of the other relationships”.

4. The change of attitudes

According to Chapple one cannot change workers’ attitudes on a large scale by teaching the supervisor human relation skills, but it is possible to maximise the workers performance in an organisational position that will suit for his character. This can be achieved by using micro-interaction analysis and the use of the interaction chronograph. With these methods is possible to both define organisational structure and personality in the same quantitative terms, thus facilitating the problem of personnel placement. Arensberg, in analysing all cases in the literature on human relations where successful changes took place, identifies in all cases three phases:

Firstly there is always a change in basic social relationship. Then follows a change in attitudes. Finally as a result of the above transformation, the activities of the organisation members change (more co-operation, increased productivity...).

In conclusion, if some interactionist has too seriously considered the casual importance of interactions, in this way they filled the gap of the Mayoite movement, made by an overemphasising the informal organisation and denying the formal one. Their methods of observation and measurement, had a salutary effect in a field stressed by the questionnaire data based studies.


The argument is that not grand theories about organisation are preferable to the empirical ones, but if we choose the latter we pay a lesser price for the limits of our implicit assumption, secondly that we cannot use finding on small group theories and apply them automatically on big groups, thirdly that even when we arrive at valid findings on the group level, the findings do not necessary apply at the organisational level. Fourthly we realise that by taking more systematically into consideration the organisation and its power structure as a whole we can study the individual and the group in it in a more fruitful and intelligent manner.

Instead this the human relationship school open the problem area of human behaviour in the firm and filled a great gap in the study of bureaucracy, studying how precise social phenomena on the societal and organisational level are correlated with specific behaviour on the group and individual level.


After describing different theorist, we can have an overall view of the theory of organisation which I studied. We started with Weber that in a very general way tried to analyse and provide solutions for the crucial problems created by an industrial and organisational civilisation. This author had the same concern of Marx and Michael about the general trend of society in bureaucratization. His main interest was with the problems of alienation and freedom but these problems take a different form from the Marxist interpretation. The problem for Weber analysis is not so much class domination, but bureaucratic domination- the totalitarian tendencies of large-scale organisations. The post-Weberian writers shifted their focus of analysis from the social to the organizational level. Taking as their starting point Weber’s ideal type of bureaucracy they try to modify it and build a more empirical model of bureaucracy. Some problems found from the classical writers had been re-examined in a more empirical and rigorous manner. Taylorism and the movement of scientific management reflect the confident ideology of American capitalism before the crisis of the thirties. The main theme about bureaucratization is not any more the problem of individual freedom and democracy, but the problem of productivity in the firm. The focus is not society as a whole but the individual worker that is a tool to increase the productivity of the organization. Taylorism carries the spirit of rationalisation and efficiency. Those principles don’t care about the individual frame of reference and the recalcitrance of people about their use as tools.

The human relations school has provided a more inclusive framework in the above sense studying directly how people behave in the organizations. The individual is seen as an agent with his own feelings and private goals that often are in contrast with the organisational goals. The problem of productivity remains the main preoccupation of the managers.

Informal organisation, leadership and morale are often seen as additional factors to be taken into considerations in shaping managerial policy.

The human relation school is the effect of a changing managerial ideology in a neo-capitalist context where manager changes from the self-confident and authoritarian capitalist-entrepreneur to the professional and manipulative chief.

These new developments have definitely given to the study of organisations a more sociological character. All this studies had two different origin (one starting with society as its basic unit of analysis, the other one with the single individual) and are gradually tending to converge to somewhere in the middle, in the organizational level of analyses.

On one extreme the writers are moved from values of human freedom and the impact of bureaucratization of the power-structure society. The others are more concerned with the problem of productivity.


A GENERAL THEORY OF BUREAUCRACY Elliot Jaques 1981 Heinemann

ORGANIZATION AND BUREAUCRACY Nicos P. Mouzelis 1975 International Library of Sociology edited by John Rex

THE MCDONALDIZATION OF SOCIETY George Ritzer 1992 Pine Forge Press

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