SOCI110 Module 8 - SIZE, BUREAUCRACY, & ORGANIZATIONAL
In this module you will learn about:
the connection between the emergence of bureaucracy
as a form of organization and the Industrial Revolution
the reasoning behind Parkinson's Law "Work expands
to fill the time available for its completion"
the relationships of organization size with 4
aspects of bureaucracy (formalization, centralization, complexity, personnel
the 4 stages of the organizational life cycle,
and the mechanisms of organizational decline
the mechanisms of organizational growth and the
pros and cons of large size
the pros and cons of bureaucracy including Arthur
Stichcombe's comparison of bureaucractic and craft administration of production
1. THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION & THE RISE
Examples of modern government bureaucracies are
the DMV, the IRS. UPS is an example of a private bureaucracy.
The Industrial Revolution began around
1750 in England. Modern bureaucracy emerged around 1850. It
is a way to run large organizations. The "need" for bureaucracy as
a tool to run large organizations is illustrated by the contemporary comment
of a railroad director.
German economist-sociologist Max Weber proposed
around turn of the century an ideal type (what we would call today
a model) of the (then) new form of organization. He described
ideal-type bureaucracy with 6 characteristics. He contrasted modern
bureaucracy with the traditional patrimonial type of organization
based on family ties.
For Max Weber, different types of organization
correspond to different bases of authority. He viewed bureaucracy
as representing the modern rational-legal basis of authority, as
opposed to the traditional and charismatic bases of authority.
Q - Using Max Weber's categories, the basis of
the authority that a university has over its students is most likely to
be _____ .
2. SIZE & STRUCTURE
1. Meanings of Bureaucracy
Today "bureaucracy" has several meanings:
How are these variables affected by the size of
Weber's ideal type of the modern form of bureaucratic
organization (see above)
the proportion of administrative personnel
(as opposed to production personnel), a variable characteristic
of an organization (Scott-Bendix)
a set of 4 structural dimensions of an organization:
2. Correlates of Organizational Size
Modern research on the effects of size focuses
on the 4 structural dimensions of formalization, centralization, complexity,
and personnel ratios.
The following exhibit (already shown in Module
1) illustrates the relationships between several aspects of bureaucracy
and the size of the organization in a sample of over 650 organizations
that were part of the National Organizations Survey.
Q - Cruella DeVille is the CEO of a medium-sized
manufacturer of fashionable women's clothing. Cruella insists on
making all decisions as to the styles that are manufactured, the type of
material that will be used in each, the suppliers from whom the company
will purchase yard goods, thread, and buttons, and the shippers the company
will use. Thus the company can be described as having a high level
of ___ .
Q - Decentralization in large organizations
is usually accompanied by (GREATER/LOWER?) formalization.
Q - As organizations increase in size, the
administrative intensity (percentage of employees who are top administrators)
tends to (INCREASE/DECREASE?).
3. ORGANIZATIONAL LIFE CYCLE
1. Life Cycle
An organization goes through a life cycle in which
the organization is born, grows old, and eventually dies. In their
model of the organizational life cycle Robert Quinn & Kim Cameron distinguish
4 major stages in the development of an organization. Each transition
to the next stage is accompanied by a specific (and predictable) set of
Q - Too much red tape is the cris that occurs
during the ___ stage of the organizational life cycle.
Q - The major goal of an organization during
the entrepreneurial stage of the life cycle is ___ .
2. Organizational Decline
(Organizational decline = a substantial
decrease in the organization's resource base)
The 3 major factors of decline:
Research has distinguished 5 typical stages in
the decline of an organization.
organizational atrophy (often excessive bureaucractization)
vulnerability (often the case for new, small organizations)
environmental decline (reduced niche in the environment)
4. ORGANIZATIONAL GROWTH & THE PROS
& CONS OF SIZE
1. Growth Mechanism 1: Monopolistic Trend
The major factor in the tendency of organizations
to grow is economies of scale, which can lead to oligopolies or monopolies.
2. Growth Mechanism 2: Parkinson's Law
A classic discussion of bureaucracy is C. Northcote
Parkinson's The Golden Rule (1957).
Parkinson's model of the growth of government
bureaucracies is based on 2 assumptions:
Parkinson argues that bureaucracies have a natural
tendency to grow in size.
The model leads to Parkinson's Law (aka Golden
"An official wants to multiply subordinates, not
"Officials make work for each other."
"Work expands to fill the time available
for its completion."
Parkinson illustrates his rule by showing how
British government bureaucracies have grown even though their reason for
existence was disappearing.
Q - "Parkinson's Law states that as organizations
grow their efficiency decreases." (TRUE/FALSE?)
Q - "According to C. Northcote Parkinson, one
of the main mechanisms of bureaucratic growth in government agencies is
the tendency of managers to prefer more subordinates rather than potential
3. Pros & Cons of Size
In recent decades, there has been a tendency for
the average size of firms to decline, in this country as well as in the
United Kingdom and Germany.
5. PROS & CONS OF BUREAUCRACY
1. Arthur Stinchcombe's Study
The conditions of bureaucracy are illustrated
vividly by a classical of the construction industry by Arthur Stinchcombe
(1959). Stinchcombe noted that the construction industry as a whole
is less bureaucratic than other manufacturing sectors, as measured by 2
indicators of bureaucratization.
Why is the construction industry less bureaucratic?
According to Stinchcombe this is because of the different nature of optimal
control in mass production sectors (bureaucractic administration)
and in the construction industry (which he calls craft administration).
Craft administration is used more often in the
construction industry because environmental variability is greater
than in other industrial sectors. Environmental variability in construction
is due to:
Craft administration permits quick reallocation
of resources as the environment changes. If this is the mechanism
at work, it ought to be the case that within the construction industry
sectors characterized by greater environmental variability tend to be less
bureaucractic (i.e., rely more on craft administration). Stinchcombe
investigates this hypothesis using data for the construction industry in
Ohio. He shows that, as predicted, firms in the more seasonal
(a kind of environmental variability) sectors of the construction industry
tend to be less bureaucratic. This relationship holds even
when controlling for the average size of firms in a given sector.
Stinchcombe argues that bureaucratic and craft
administration are both forms of rational administration.
Craft administration differs from bureaucracy in that control of work activities
is through the professional socialization of workers rather than detailed
instructions, the hierarchy of authority is absent, and the role of written
communications (files) is much reduced. Both forms, however, share
the remaining characteristics of bureaucracy distinguished by Weber.
variation in product mix & volume of work
due to the business cycle
"patchiness" of construction projects in small
task heterogenity at construction site during
different phases of a project
2. Bureaucracy: Pros & Cons
Q - For each of the following dimensions, check
the most appropriate situation to use bureaucracy
Q - "Tremayne is the manager of OL-U-NEED Services,
a consulting company composed of professionals from different fields.
Given this situation, Tremayne would be wise to use a bureaucratic structure."
percentage of employees who are professionals
Q - "According to Arthur Stinchcombe, craft
administration is characterized by the specification of the product rather
than the specification of tasks." (TRUE/FALSE?)
Q - In "Bureaucracy & Craft Administration
of Production" Arthur Stinchcombe discusses data that show a strongly significant
(POSITIVE/NEGATIVE?) association between percent clerks and (SIZE OF FIRM/EMPLOYMENT
Last modified 22 Oct 2001