SOCA02H3 Chapter Notes -Messier 4, Hawthorne Effect, Oligarchy

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Malak Patel | Chapter 6
1
Chapter 6: Networks, Groups,
Bureaucracies, & Societies
Bureaucracies
Bureaucratic Inefficiency
Weber argued→ bureaucracy is most efficient type of 2ndary group
Idea that bureaucracies are efficient may seem very odd→ seen as “Red Tape
Case of the Challenger space shuttle→ exploded shortly after takeoff [b/c of O-rings]
o Some engineers knew but info didn’t reach NASA’s top bureaucrats
Bureaucratic inefficiencies can sometimes have tragic consequences
Why against Weber’s view?
1. When Weber wrote about efficiency of burea, he was comparing w/ older organizational forms
These operated on the basis of traditional practices or charisma of their leaders
2. Weber thought of burea could operate efficiently only in the ideal case
Reality is often messier
4 main criticisms against bureaucracies:
1. Dehumanization: occurs when bureaucracies treat clients as standard cases and personnel as
cogs in a giant machine
a. This treatment frustrates clients & lowers worker morale
2. Bureaucratic ritualism: involves bureaucrats becoming so preoccupied with rules & regulations
that they make it difficult for the organization to fulfill its goals
3. Oligarchy [“rule of the few”]: all bureaucracies have a supposed tendency for power to become
increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few ppl @ the top of the organizational pyramid
a. Problematic in political organizations
4. Bureaucratic inertia: the tendency of large, rigid bureaucracies to continue their policies even
when their clients’ needs change
a. Ex) Titanic
2 factors underlie bureaucratic inefficiency: SIZE & SOCIAL STRUCTURE
o # of dyadic relationships =  , n is the # of ppl
Possibility of rivalries, conflict, miscommunication ↑ as # of dyadic relationships ↑
More level, [head→ division→ department] , more difficult communication becomes
o Info may be lost, blocked, reinterpreted
o Heads may have vague idea abt what is happening “on the ground
Weber ignored bureaucracy’s informal side & role of leadership in influencing bureaucratic performance
Bureaucracys Informal Side
Weber concerned mainly w/ formal structure; paid lil attention to social networks that underlie
Hawthorne study showed that employees are members of social networks that regulate output
Kanter studied→ company policy didn’t discriminate against women, but an informal network of
social relations discriminated against women in practice [ex. Male-only social network]
Socializing lies at the heart of all social interaction that requires cooperation!
Malak Patel | Chapter 6
2
Leadership
Laissez-faire leadership [“let them do”]: allows subordinates to work things out largely on their
own, with almost no direction from above
o Its the LEAST effective type of leadership
Authoritarian leadership: leaders demand strict compliance from subordinates
o MOST effective in a crisis, such as war or emergency @ hospital
Democratic leadership: offers more guidance than the laissez-faire but less control than the
authoritarian type
o Leaders try to include all grp members in the decision-making process, taking best ideas
from the grp, moulding them into a strategy
o Except for crisis situations, democratic leadership is the MOST effective style
Overcoming Bureaucratic Inefficiency
Large bureaucratic organizations find themselves unable to compete w/ smaller firms
o b/c smaller firms tend to have flatter democratic org structure
in network structure, communication links all units, not only flows upward
flatter bureaucracies produce satisfied workers, happier clients & bigger profits
“quality circles” to monitor & correct defects in products & services
o Began in Sweden & Japan
Organizational Environments
Organizational environment: comprises a host of economic, political, & cultural factors that lie
outside an organization & affect the way it works
o Case in point: United States & Japan
In 1970s, American business bureau tend to me more hierarchical
Worker dissatisfaction high, labour productivity low in US
o Japanese workers were in a position to demand and achieve more decision making
authority than American workers
o International competition encouraged bureaucratic efficiency in Japan
o The availability of external suppliers allowed Japanese firms to remain lean
Today, Japanese-American differences have ↓

Document Summary

Weber argued bureaucracy is most efficient type of 2ndary group. Case of the challenger space shuttle exploded shortly after takeoff [b/c of o-rings] Idea that bureaucracies are efficient may seem very odd seen as red tape : some engineers knew but info didn"t reach nasa"s top bureaucrats. Bureaucratic inefficiencies can sometimes have tragic consequences. Why against weber"s view: when weber wrote about efficiency of burea, he was comparing w/ older organizational forms. These operated on the basis of traditional practices or charisma of their leaders: weber thought of burea could operate efficiently only in the ideal case. 2 factors underlie bureaucratic inefficiency: size & social structure: # of dyadic relationships = , n is the # of ppl. Possibility of rivalries, conflict, miscommunication as # of dyadic relationships . More level, [head division department] , more difficult communication becomes. Info may be lost, blocked, reinterpreted: heads may have vague idea abt what is happening on the ground .