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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’

Watching this video is worth 1 Management Courses CPD Points.
(See below for more details)

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.

He distinguished:
• 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:

Charismatic Organization

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.

Traditional Organization

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.

Rational-legal Organization
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)

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Max Weber: The Theory Of Social And Economic Organization


– Understanding Organizations https://geni.us/oB774Do
– Images of Organization https://geni.us/hrOemEs
– Inside Organizations: 21 Ideas for Managers https://geni.us/YwwL

Managers Need a Basic set of kit to do your job well. Here are my top recommendations: https://kit.co/MikeClayton/manager-s-work-kit (the links are affiliated)

Management Courses Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Points
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Each video has two levels of MC CPD points. For this video:
– If you simply watched the video, record 1 MC CPD point
– If you also carried out all of the recommended exercises, score a total of 4 MC CPD points

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#OrganizationalCulture #ManagementCourses #MaxWeber


What is Globalization?
Kim Cameron: Positive Organizational Scholarship
Charles Handy: Philosopher of Organizations
Edgar Schein: The Master of Organizational Culture
Harold Geneen: Data-driven Charismatic Organization
Chester Barnard: Organizations as Networks of People
How we Work: Geert Hofstede’s 6 Cross-Organization Cultural Dimensions
National Culture within an Organization: Geert Hofstede’s 6 Cultural Dimensions
Quinn and Cameron: Competing Values Model of Organizational Culture
Edgar Schein’s 3 Levels of Organizational Culture
Cultural Web: Johnson & Scholes on Where Culture Originates
Introduction to Organizational Culture
Empowerment: The Organization Giving up its Power
French and Raven: Social Power Bases in Organizations
Power in Organizations: The Power of Governance
Robin Fincham: Three Levels of Organizational Power
Amitai Etzioni: How Organizations Secure Compliance
Organizational Power: What is Power?
Virtual Organizations
Brian Robertson’s Holacracy Organizational Model
The Agile Organization
Adhocracy Organizational Model
Peter Senge’s Learning Organization
The Matrix Organization Model
Charles Handy’s Triple-I Company
Charles Handy’s Federal Organization Model
Charles Handy’s Shamrock Organization
Charles Handy’s Gods of Management
Henry Mintzberg’s 4 plus 2 Organizational Types
Edgar Schein’s Two Organizational Cultures
Why do we need Organizations? Structure vs Agility
The Features of Organizations: What an Organization Needs
Organizations as Processes: Understanding an Organization as a Set of Processes
Organizations as Structures: Understanding an Organization as a Structure
Morgan’s 8 Organizational Metaphors: An Organization is Like a…
What is an Organization? – the Nature of Organizations

Mike Clayton

About Mike Clayton 

Dr Mike Clayton is a (former) Project Manager and now a management educator. Having trained thousands of people at live workshops, seminars, and conferences, he now delivers training mainly via video. He has 14 books with international publishers and runs two successful YouTube channels. He is also the founder of OnlinePMCourses.com

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