Sociology of Work Research Paper

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Sociology of Work


Max Weber advocated a management system, which would replace the influence of tradition and personal connection with clearly defined roles independent of those who occupied them. It was the need of his time when he and fellow theorists sought ways of increasing efficiency in production. Machines were then taking over the workload of many industries and people's lives, necessitating an immortal organization. He believed that a hierarchy had to be established to get things done. With the help of his contemporary Henry Ford, the concept of specialization was incorporated into system. Weber firmly believed it would increase efficiency of production. Strong rules and regulations must be set to keep tight control by management ranks. The bureaucratic organizational structure has been handed down to the present time with mixed effects. It has enabled governments and corporations to assert and exert power and to project power in a unified and consistent manner. Bureaucracy is also an effective method of control with its design and vertical chain of command. But bureaucracy is also rigid and inflexible and can be used for the personal ends of its patrons. Its rules, procedures and regulations are separated from their original purpose and treated as ends in themselves. It also obstructs progress, uncaring as it is impersonal, and given to internal competition and strife. Its mixed effects taken together, it defeats its original purpose and has become damaging.

Thesis Statement: Bureaucracy should be abolished.


Not Performing Efficiently

Laurent A.H. Carnis (2009) offers an analysis on the origins and dynamics of bureaucracy as means of escaping the system's disadvantages. He does this by comparing the theories of Niskanen and Mises of the Public Choice School and the Austrian School of Economics. The two authors agree in their analysis of the defect of bureaucracy. But they strongly disagree on the reasons for the existence of bureaus, their functions and deficiencies. Their proposed ways of escaping the disadvantages of bureaucracy are likewise different and cannot be reconciled. Niskanen would promote competition and elaborate mechanisms among bureaucracies and control information to achieve a close semblance of the perfect competitive situation in the efficient allocation of resources. Mises would promote capitalism through economic education as well as reduce government interference of private economy. Their propositions are s divergent as their perceptions of the existence of bureaucracy. But despite the divergence, their economic approaches agree that bureaus do not perform efficiently (Carnis).

Far from the Original Intent

Rakic (2007) laments that the difficulty in establishing an organized and effective civil service sector stands on the way of a socialist economy's transition into a functioning market democracy. He presents Niskanen's theory to model bureaucratic behavior. It views bureaucrats and politicians as rational agents charged with budget maximization. This equates with inefficient spending. Their allocation of financial resources, which they also control, is susceptible to corruption and clientilism. This departs from the original motive for public servants to serve the public interest. They are far from being considered altruistic, honest and driven by good intents, high moral values and principles. Weber's high ideals on public administration were focused on realizing established institutional aims. These were the meritocratic recruitment of personnel who are adequately educated and tested; predictable prospects of long-term career rewards; and strictly defined and non-overlapping jurisdiction within the state framework. Yet the findings of the empirical testing conducted by Evans and Rauch on good economic performance revealed minimal personnel competence. Rather, they ignored their agency's stated norms and values, which were indispensable to the enthusiasm and sense of loyalty to the organization. The findings concluded that meritocratic recruitment and promotion contribute to the development of bureaucrats' corporate identity and increases the cost of corrupt behavior (Rakic).

The author (Rakic, 2007) examined the major theories of bureaucratic behavior, notably Niskanen's theory. Niskanen saw civil servants as public officials who were far from realizing the intent of Weber. Their rational political behavior was likely to evolve into economically irrational acts. Their serving the public interest as their principal objective was very difficult to accept. They are instead as interested as politicians or voters in maximizing their own interest. They were ever after their material well-being and the maximum advantage of the resources in their control. They allocated these according to their whims (Rakic).

Pleasing Superiors is Paramount

Theoretically, information is collected at the lowest ranks of a bureaucratic organization (Rothbard, 1999). The manager of each rank gathers and sifts the information and passes it on to the manager of the next higher rank until the very top. The trouble is that each manager does not always have the motivation to pass on the truthful distillate to the next higher. There is that desire to please one's superiors so a subordinate tells the superior or superiors what they want to hear rather than what it truthfully gathered from the ranks. One source of fear is to be scolded or punished for bringing bad news to a boss. The harbinger of bad news is considered a troublemaker or a subversive. His or her career is stunted, often permanently. But the bringer of pleasant news is praised as someone perceptive and his or her career advances. In case the harbinger of bad news is proved right in some future time, the attitude remains. Repentance hardly exists in a bureaucracy. Bureaucrats are shrewd individuals. If they see that their leader's policy is in serious error, they will simply shut up and let some fool bring the bad news and get shot for it. It is then plain that the higher the ranks, the more bootlickers are to be found. Those in the lower ranks certainly know more about what is really going on then their top leader (Rothbard).

Rational and Efficient

Author Altay (1999) takes on the opinion of economists in justifying the role of bureaucracy, or the public sector, in increasing public expenditures. The main problem of the 50s was to reconstruct post-war economics and increase public expenditure for the purpose. This role substantially increased the role of the public sector in the economy. The growth of government is difficult or impossible to track and can be done only by examining figures for public expenditure. This is the standard measure of growth. Expenditures are said to be the most visible mode of government or bureaucratic activity. Bureaucracy is thus the cause of public expenditure. Its chief resources consist of information and expertise, the power of decision, and political supporters. Its information and expertise are required for effective policy-making. And these information and expertise are concentrated in bureaucratic agencies. The power of decision is its second. When compared with other political institutions, especially legislative institutions, the public bureaucracy qualifies as a model of efficiency. It is, therefore, capable of faster action on many issues than legislatures. And its political supporters assist in claiming funds and policy autonomy. The main feature of modern government is the growth of the public sector, the bureaucracy, which is the centralized administration of a nation, through regularly evaluated officials. Public bureaucracy expands with public sector growth. Public choice economists emphasize that the growth of public expenditure and of the government itself is owed to the public bureaucracy (Altay).

Prevents Corruption and Safeguards Democracy

A study reviewed bureaucracy as an instrument of change through three broad periods of change (Phidd, 2012). These are the classical, neo-classical and contemporary schools periods. When evaluated against Weber's model and its tendency towards legal-rational authority structures in Western democracies, the study found that bureaucracy is necessary to prevent political corruption and to safeguard proper democratic procedures in the 20th century. It is threatened by inconsistent democratic rules and a threat to democracy as well as indispensable to it. The study concluded that the relationship between bureaucracy and democracy may be uneasy, paradoxical or self-contradictory, but it bears out that bureaucracy is necessary for democracy while it is a constant source of tension to democracy. The greater the strain bureaucracy creates for democracy, the more powerful bureaucracy becomes (Phidd).

Globalization and Technological Advancement Justify It

Post-bureaucracy theories call attention to the dissipation of traditional modes of management under the pressured exerted by globalization and technological advancement (Johnson et al., 2011). What they saw was a surfacing of alternative practices, which would allow a sharing of power within a set up of higher levels of responsible autonomy. A series of transnational surveys gave evidence to this probability. Organizations could opt to promote responsible autonomy. Post-bureaucracy theories would support a setup wherein organizations would eventually delegate more power to employees. This was indicative of the breakdown of traditional bureaucratically order power framework. The study also emphasized uneven and contested process of change from the persistent effects of modes of regulation (Johnson et al.).

Argument and Documentation

Much research has provided evidence against the continued existence of bureaucracy.

It has not been performing efficiently as envisioned and intended (Carnis, 2009). Theories may differ widely in their perception on the functions of a bureaucracy, but they are in…

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