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Bureaucratic Model of Organizational Functioning

Admin in Higher Education
by

Sharon Jackson

on 8 January 2016

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Transcript of Bureaucratic Model of Organizational Functioning

Strengths
Weaknesses
Bureaucratic Model
What is it?
Questions?
According to Max Weber (1964) bureaucracies are  “the most rational known means of carrying out imperative control over human beings”
The Bureaucratic Organizational Model
Max Weber’s work Economy and Society defines a bureaucracy as “a structure of domination” (p.219) Weber states “bureaucratic administration means fundamentally domination through knowledge”
Weber identifies six features that characterize a bureaucracy:
Fixed area of activity, governed by rules
Hierarchy
Actions based on written documents and saved as files
Expert training is necessary
Officials devote full activity to their work
Management of office follows rules that can be learned
Max Weber’s Bureaucratic Model
Hierarchical structure with subunits reporting to a senior administrative unit with clear chains of command
Power flows downward
Organizational chart
Superior giving directives to a subordinate who follows directives and reports back to superior
Division of labor
Tasks broken into smaller tasks with many working on various parts
Rules, actions, decisions are all documented in writing
SOP – Standard Operating Procedures
Decisions and actions set precedents for future
Increases efficiency and predictability
Birnbaum’s Characteristics of A Bureaucratic Model

Rank is associated with expertise & performance
Promotes lower hierarchy taking directives from those above
The higher up in rank the more knowledge is expected

Bureaucracies are rational organizations
They make consistent choices that maximize the values
They look at cost and benefits of each decision and attempt to make the best decision to match the stated objectives
Birnbaum’s Characteristics of A Bureaucratic Model
To “Be” Bureaucratic or to “Behave” Bureaucratically?
Activity
Discussion Questions
References
Dierre Clift, Sharon Jackson, Lissia Gerber & Lauren Missik
Allen, J. (1977). Bureaucracy in education: A symposium. Peabody Journal of Education, 55(1), 39-40. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01619567709538159
(Birnbaum, 1988)
(Birnbaum, 1988)
If you were a letter A- how do you feel the group worked? (positive & negative)
If you were a letter B- how do you feel the group worked? (positive & negative)
If you were a letter C, D or E- how do you feel the group worked? (positive & negative)
How did it feel to be the messenger? Did you feel useful to your team?
Did this event make you feel frustrated/useful? Why?
How did it feel to have your paper ripped up, discarded or returned with no explanation?
What was the significance of having the communication formatted a certain way?
How can this apply to higher education?
When time is limited, how do we ensure effective communication takes place?
The Activity?
So how does this relate to HIED?
Why bureaucratic model in higher education?

As cited in Weber, M. (1978). Economy and Society (p. 956-958).
“Effective and efficient operation of the college depends on compliance with rules and regulations…it is not left to chance or to goodwill” (Birnbaum, 1988, p. 112)
Strengths
Work of individuals can be coordinated or controlled by a subordinate carrying out directives of superior
Rationalize the heroic role of the president of an institution - President can delegate authority to subordinates to assist in decision making - effective leading must include delegation
With the use of a clear chain of command, tasks can be delegated in such a way that prevents other tasks and communication from falling through the cracks
Delegation
Hierarchical division of labor prevents duplication of responsibility, allows people to learn a significant amount about one specialized area and develop expertise in that area
Rank is associated with expertise & performance - this promotes those that are lower on the hierarchy respecting and listening to the directives of those higher in the hierarchy
Gives an appearance of stability and regularity which is imperative in higher education to gain the trust and support of society
Blanket rules and regulations applying across the board ensure tasks are completed in a predictable and efficient manner
Rules and policies are created in response to past problems/issues therefore methods for handling future problems/issues are well defined
Efficiency
Rules and regulations provide consistency in processes and in decisions and actions by administrators from various subunits
Bureaucracies are rational organizations- this means they make consistent choices that maximize the values within specific constraints - they look at cost and benefits of each decision and attempt to make the best decision to match the stated objectives
Standardizes the behavior, activities and processes become more predictable which makes the institution more predictable (Birnbaum, 1988)
SOPs create consistency and precedents that influence future behavior and decisions
Rules and regulations limit the administrative discretion and promote fairness, equity, objectiveness and inhibit personal favoritism
Consistency
Perrow (1979), in reference to the rules of bureaucracies
they protect as well as restrict; coordinate as well as block; channel effort as well as limit it; permit universalism as well as provide sanctuary for the inept; maintain stability as well as retard change; permit diversity as well as restrict it.
(as cited in Birnbaum, 1988, p. 111)
Weaknesses
Hierarchy can create silos and vertical loops which are intended to increase efficiency but usually result in vicious cycles and alienation
Situations that no policy or rule has been established may cause a “passing the buck” to a higher administrative hierarchy level since no precedent established
The subordinate receiving the delegation or directive must believe in the value of the task or they may not follow the directive
There is a zone of indifference when subordinates do not accept the orders of a superior
Information that upper administration might need to identify problems in the organization may be not be communicated in fear of the subordinate looking bad to the superior
Delegation
Divisions of labor compartmentalize attention and response. So if someone does not usually deal with a specific area, they will not address it
It becomes an “Iron Cage of Control” (Weber, 1964)
Tight coupling in one area of an institution creates loose coupling in another part
Efficiency
Nonroutine tasks are difficult to bureaucratize
Processes or ways of doing things are not easily given up if “things are always done that way” this inhibits strategic decision making and the implementation of new, more efficient processes
The greater the professional level of institutional staff members the less effective bureaucratic controls will be (example bureaucratic controls less effective when dealing with faculty)
Consistency
(Blau, 1956 as cited in Birnbaum, 1988 p.107)
How it applies to Higher Education
“Organizations do not have to become bureaucracies. For bureaucracy to emerge within organizations, certain elements require development. One element is a concept of graded authority, a strict system of rank or office hierarchy. Another is a carefully maintained systems of written records which document the function, place, and status of persons at various bureaucratic levels. A third is the presence of a system of employment and advancement based on merit and performance rather than on the mere personal whims of a superior. These three elements lend themselves particularly well to advanced capitalistic enterprises and to the modern state.”
To “Be” Bureaucratic or to “Behave” Bureaucratically?
Allen, J. (1977). Bureaucracy in education: A symposium. Peabody Journal of Education, 55(1), 39-40. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01619567709538159
Tying everything together
The subordinate employee feels their suggestions are unheard by the higher ups

The amount of paperwork can be overwhelming

If the group doesn’t have strong members, it can make for a negative experience AND the project will not be as successful as it could have been
So about those weaknesses
Well, that is the bureaucratic model
Power flows downward
Organizational chart
Supervisor directs subordinate & subordinate reports back to the supervisor
Division of labor- tasks are split up and worked on by multiple people
Everything is documented in writing
Decisions and actions set precedents for the future
Increases efficiency and predictability
The Activity?
Within higher education- WE DO WORK
Responsible to our institution as a whole
Responsible for fulfilling the mission, and goals while working towards the overall vision
Responsible to our department, its mission, goals and departmental vision(s)
Responsible for completing office tasks as assigned by our supervisors
Responsible for helping with student development- vision, implication and working on the front lines
So how does this relate to Higher Education?
Considering the term bureaucracy from an analytical perspective as a “type of organization designed to accomplish large-scale administrative tasks by systematically coordinating the work of many individuals” facilitates the understanding for the necessity of the bureaucratic organizational model in academia.
Bureaucratic model in Higher Education
The need for standardized practices in an institution with many specialized units and departments substantiates the need for the bureaucratic framework
Departments and units have specific and specialized goals, yet must ensure all goals are cohesive and support the overall organizational goals
The standardization and consistency of standards, policies and procedures help the various programs collaborate and coordinate individual goal with the vision and academic mission of the organization
Public institutions are more often more bureaucratic than private because they already have established rules, policies that they must adhere to from state and local government
Gives an appearance of stability and regularity which is imperative in higher education to gain the trust and support of society
Why bureaucratic model in higher education?
(Blau, 1956 as cited in Birnbaum, 1988 p.107)
Allen, J. (1977). Bureaucracy in education: A symposium. Peabody Journal of Education, 55(1), 39-40.
Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01619567709538159
Birnbaum, R. (1988). How colleges work: The cybernetics of academic organization and leadership.
San Francisco: Josey-Bass.
Weber, M. (1964). The theory of social and economic organization. Parsons,T. (Ed.). New York, NY:
The Free Press.
Weber, M. (1978). Economy and society. Roth, G. & Wittich, C. (Eds.). Los Angeles, CA:
University of California Press..
Everything is in writing- there’s always a paper trail & information to fall back on

It allows for the supervisor to have direct supervision over employees

Gives employees the opportunity to involve themselves in multiple different projects with different people
Glossing over Strengths...
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