Max Weber: The Father of Organizational Theory
Max Weber was a professor of political economy at the University of Freiberg. But he is known as the ‘Father of Organizational Theory’
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The Nature of Organizations
This video is part of course module number 6.1.5
Program 6: Managing within Organizations
Course 1: The Nature of Organizations
Section 5: Masters of Organizations
Other videos in this section include:
🎬 Chester Barnard: Organizations as Networks of People https://youtu.be/UVi5iI6N8UM
🎬 Harold Geneen: Data-driven Charismatic Organization https://youtu.be/QrF82M9aVQc
🎬 Edgar Schein: The Master of Organizational Culture https://youtu.be/TMqTN4fGb1k
🎬 Charles Handy: Philosopher of Organizations https://youtu.be/kCkXc-hPsbg
🎬 Kim Cameron: Positive Organizational Scholarship https://youtu.be/N2QxvQ5t2Lo
Weber studied different types of bureaucracies. In this 1947 book, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization (https://geni.us/atMCa), he looked at different types of organization, based on how they use power and authority.
• Power – compelling people to comply
• Authority – ability to secure voluntary compliance
Weber studied the behaviors within organizations. He categorized three overlapping types of organization, based on how managers get things done:
Led by a charismatic leader who inspires colleagues with ideas and vision. Members of the organization accept instruction and rules willingly – sometimes without question. When the leader moves on, charismatic organizations can fail, in the absence of a suitable replacement.
A focus on tradition and stability. Rule-following and compliance is expected, and management is powerful and autocratic. A lot of family businesses show these traits.
Weber’s ideal organization has roles designed for specific purposes. There is an orderly hierarchy that enforces rules that emerge from the organization’s priorities. Everyone has specific duties, and all decisions, rules, and instructions are recorded. Bureaucracies like this become more efficient, as they eliminate irrational and personal considerations from their processes. He labeled this emotional detachment as ‘professionalism’.
Weber saw the Rational-legal bureaucracy as a good thing, offering efficiency, job security, and a clear division between work and social life. An efficient organization, he said, resembles a well-functioning machine.
Now, of course, the word bureaucracy has become a term of abuse. Weber himself was the first to recognize the risk that people would start to feel like nothing more than ‘cogs in the machine’.
We might see Rational-legal organizations as the first truly modern organizations. And most contemporary organizations continue to show some aspects of rational-legal bureaucracy. In what parts of your own organization do you see this? and how does it interact with other cultures within your organization? (3 MC CPD Points)
Max Weber: The Theory Of Social And Economic Organization
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