Bureaucracy is Dead!!

bureaucracyFor nearly 100 years, sociologists have deferred to the work of Max Weber as the cornerstone of organizational research.  At the turn of the 19th Century, Weber watched the Industrial Revolution usher in a new type of organization that he refered to as the bureaucracy.  In his studies of organizations, Weber (1946) created the ideal type of bureaucracy as a model of comparison for these new organizations.  His findings and assumptions on bureaucracies are taught in sociology classrooms from Harvard to Hastings still today.

However, recent technological changes may quickly be eroding the Weber foundation on organizational theory.  Communication is, and always has been, integral to organizational form.  As technology dramatically alters how we communicate, it is ushering in new forms of organizations. 

Communication today is much faster and comparatively less expensive than in Weber’s day.  With the ability to transmit voice, text, images, videos, data, graphics and more, the breadth of communication today is also much greater.  Individuals and organizations are vastly more connected because of these changes in communication.  Information has become a shared resource making human and organizational knowledge exponentially greater.

These new, technologically driven organizations are more decentralized and flexible.  Their hierarchies are flatter and more fluid with less middle management.  Workflow is less physical and more collective.  Relationships are less structured and more equitable.  They are no longer tied to common workspace.  Tangible goods are replaced by service or information making it difficult to distinguish product from process.  Groups within the organization share an increased dialogue. (Faulk, J. & DeSanctis, G.  1995.  Electronic Communication and Changing Organizational Forms.  Organizational Science 4, 337 – 349.)

When put up against the characteristics of Weber’s model, these new organizations are causing sociologists to reconsider their assumptions and definitions toward organizations.  In addition to everything else that technology has provided us, is it also bringing an end to bureacracy?


About Jesse Alber

Jesse Alber attained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Communications with an Athletic Coaching Endorsement from Hastings College in May, 1993. From 1994 - 2000, Alber served in leadership roles in human resources, retail, and production. Alber enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2000. He served as a Armored Cavalry Scout and Troop Training Manager with A 3/7 CAV 3d ID until 2004. Alber deployed to Bosnia in 2001 and Kwait / Iraq in 2003. Alber served in the Army Reserves from 2005 - 2008. From 2004 - 2010 Alber served as the Adult Education Coordinator for Central Community College and Executive Director for the Hastings Literacy Program. Alber returned to Hastings College in 2010 to study Computer Science and Web Design. He is currently emploed as a Programming and Web Development Intern with Servi-Tech Industries. Alber will complete his program of study in the summer of 2012.
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