Bureaucratic Organization And The Learning Process
This paper talks about a bureaucratic organization in detail. It focuses however on the learning aspect in an organization that means how conducive the entire working environment is there. This promotion of a learning environment is essential in effective growth of a company or whichever organization that undertakes the learning process as part of their work. The argument that surrounds this entire paper is essentially that how well a bureaucratic organization deals with this aspect of efficiency by inculcating within it the process of subliminal learning.
The argument arises when it is said that there is not much learning undertaken in a typical bureaucratic organization. Introduction At the onset of the industrial revolution, at the end of the eighteenth century, many small shops around villages etc. were transformed into big factories by centralizing their power. There are two main practices that are talked about when the term “bureaucratic organization” is mentioned. These two main theories are: • Weber’s ideal bureaucracy • Taylor’s scientific management Both these concepts talk about compartmentalization and labor resource.
These two factors according the theories are very important in determining what exactly is meant by efficiency in work at the workplace. Taylor’s scientific management Taylor talked about analysis undertaken at the workplace with respect to working behavior. His study which was very detailed and conclusive, analyzed labor work at a factory where there were machines involved also. His aim was to improve efficiency while also making sure that per unit costs decrease of the output or the product/s that are being produced.
The role of the research was to make sure that the human labor involved were basically machines that could be replaced or exchanged with each other when there is a lack in one’s performance for instance. (Kimble, n. d. ) His idea originated from that one time when he conducted observational studies on workers who were doing repetitive jobs. He called these repetitive jobs and the employees/ lower level factory workers tasks as “soldiering”. He claimed that an efficient way or the best method of doing each job should be determined and then taught to all the workers.
This, according to him would make sure that the worker’s productivity goes up and the workers would also feel like they are indulging into quality work for the organization; thereby also leading motivating them. He said that there are many forces at work that contribute towards the actual production of output. These factors involved are the internal human characteristics, the physical environment, social atmosphere, the task itself. The task itself would involve things like the kind of work involved (manual or automated), speed with which it can be done etc.
For this purpose he designed time motion studies to measure how workers contribute to the output. (Kimble, n. d. ) Taylor found out that as the products involved more and more complex, and then the workers’ productivity increased thereby too. And eventually the entire middle management of the factor itself emerged as a new layer therein. Departmentalization took place resulting into more efficient allocation of resources. (Kimble, n. d. ) The Ideal Bureaucracy – Max Weber (1864 – 1920) Max Weber was the actual proponent of bureaucracy.
He talked about having a form of organization that incorporates into itself use of written and formal documents. Moreover, most people take the term “bureaucracy” as something that has monarchy or an authoritarian style of leadership or management. This is the view that Weber promoted. At the time when capitalism was very much in an influential state, concept of this type of management was introduced. It had/ has the interplay of maximization of the production or the output, while also making sure that input prices and costs are minimized.
Hence, this is the point where Taylor also agrees when the latter talks about efficiency in allocation and management of resources while doing work. (Kimble, n. d. ) Weber categorized many concepts that he thought are related to this type of administration and management. These he called as the core factors or rudiments that are there in such an organization. These are: • Efficiency first of all • Impersonality • Logical sequence of activities and events Weber further illustrated and clarified the role of bureaucracy by saying how the structure of such a firm is controlled from above.
Hence, there is centralization of power only at the top and most of time no one else has any authority in making or trying to undertake any decisions involving the organization’s functions and activities. (Kimble, n. d. ) Weber said that such an organization hence has more chances of succeeding in its lifecycle development since there is no meddling of affairs in the hands of those who are not directly involved in the organization. He gave the example of the army or the forces, by saying that they have success in the performance of their goals since they have centralized authority and power at the top.
This results in giving of and hence following of the direct orders of the entire team in the army. (Kimble, n. d. ) Weber proclaimed that along with the power at the top, there is also power and authority at the managing level or the “head” of each level in the hierarchy. He said such organizations are more effective and stable. (Kimble, n. d. ) Learning Process in Organizations There are many companies today that indulge in many different activities involving various perspectives. This means that they have the kind of perspectives that they think are effective to do the work that are involved in.
now, putting these vague concepts together it can be said that a learning organization indulges into subliminal knowledge sharing that promotes the presence and activation of a conducive environment. Facilitation of learning on each employee’s part in an organization along with changes, results in a learning process. (Smith, 2001) There is widespread opening up of people’s capacities which mean that each individual has a fair chance of learning in the process of working for this organization.
There can be an amalgamation of many employee’s ideas and thoughts that could result into changes in the organization in future which would contribute towards its development. There is inspiration, aspirations, hopes and dreams, aiming to achieve success and more and more developments in a positive way. This can be made possible when there is an adequate amount of openness that promotes giving value through each employee or the member of an organization. (Farago & Skyrme, 1995) Learning levels or types:
It is not just training and teaching that is part of a learning organization, rather it is also about how the development of each member’s capacities is enhanced, thereby providing benefits to the entire organization on the whole (Smith, 2001). There are different types of learning, these are: Level 1: facts, processes, procedures in learning Level 2: job skills development Level 3: adaptability to a changing environment (for the better good of the organization) Level 4: innovating and fostering people’s creativity.
Characteristics of a learning organization: These are pointed out below as discussed by Smith (2001): • Culture that promotes learning • Processes involved that promote interaction and development of human potential by discovery • Group and individual learning e. g. problem solving techniques • Acquiring of skills and thereby attaining motivation So, is Bureaucracy Not Consistent with Learning? It is general notion and a common belief that a bureaucratic organization is not very welcoming of a learning environment.
This is because when there is control directed at everyone from the top then there is not much learning that takes place. This is certain of the fact that usually in a bureaucratic organization the focus is on efficient control and advancement with promotion of power that the lower level workers (for each head respectively that is) are subjected to. (Smith, 2001) In most extreme cases, it is even said that these two types of organizations, learning organization and a bureaucratic organization, are two extremes of a pole.
And there is often impossibility of having learning in a bureaucratic organization. In contemporary times, many companies have also focused on changing from a bureaucratic organization to a learning organization as being part of one of their main strategic aims. Many theorists have said that the commercial importance of a learning organization is also increasing with the passage of time. This also handles competition well and makes sure that efficiency is kept in line with that of the worker’s involved. (Smith, 2001)
How can an Organization be made a Learning Organization? A lot has been said about organizations that run on bureaucracy, and have no or minimal aspects of learning involved. The very important question here is hence that how can organizations be made to function in a way that promotion of a learning culture is done. This could be a step by step procedure that could involve learning as part of its components while also catering bureaucracy as the main type of its management (Kline, 1997; Senge 2006). Techniques:
An environment could be created that promotes such type of learning and thereby help in advancement of the organization in the most effective manner. Many things could happen including: • Having an environment of inquiry and that of allowing free flow of information • Creativity and allowing for innovative ideas • Efficient organization and coordination of information • Making quick decisions and allowing for flexibility in decision making in general • Conducting observation studies to document and verify this later
• Making sure that new learned information and knowledge is amalgamated into the new procedures and policies to incorporate changes thereby Henceforth, it is clear that to have a bureaucratic organization changed into a learning organization if not wholly then at least partially, it is highly essential that there is a collective or a team effort to start off with. Also, there should be many teams and groups there which have easy interaction so that there is an ease in information flow. Nothing should stay hidden which can help in imparting knowledge even if it’s implicit knowledge (which is usually the case).
(Farago & Skyrme, 1995) Skills involved: • Communication • Observation and a listening atmosphere • Strengthening of colleague to colleague and boss to colleague relationships • Sustainment of each other at the workplace • Having a holistic approach towards everything • Accepting confrontations and challenges positively • Accepting change • Being flexible and open to new trends/ ideas • Fostering one’s own development of capacities by also helping others to do so with their own Taking out elements that make an organization not a “learning” organization:
This section deals with how an organization can help itself by taking out all these factors that do not extend towards the organization being able to benefit from learning and knowledge sharing. There are hence many obstacles or hindrances that can render a bureaucratic organization not take advantage of learning. The following pointers could be related to a supervisor at a bureaucratic organization. These are: • Being traditional and seeing everything from the “I-own” perspective rather than from the “I-share” perspective
• Being too focused on systems and procedures themselves rather than being appreciative of sharing information overall • Being overly rejective of change • Having hidden feelings • Having hidden personal goals and ideas and not sharing them • Not having empowerment done • Having materialistic view of everything around them Success factors in changing: There are many factors hence that can be solved when taking these into account. Some of the success factors are: • Start at the top • Prioritize things • Be active rather than passive • Do correct diagnose of acute issues • Link things together
• Allow for mutual feedback (top to bottom, and also bottom to top) • Allow for new ideas and product development • Think out of the box • Role-playing; this can be particularly helpful to these people who think that power is everything and now its effective usage • Energizing, specializing behavior (Farago & Skyrme, 1995; Kalling & Styhre; 2006) Works Cited Farago J and Skyrme D. (1995) The learning organization. Retrieved November 3, 2008, from http://www. skyrme. com/insights/3lrnorg. htm Smith, M. K. (2001) The learning organization, the encyclopedia of informal education, Retrieved November 3, 2008, from http://www.
infed. org/biblio/learning-organization. htm. Kimble, C. (n. d. ). Bureaucratic organizations. Retrieved November 3, 2008, from http://www. chris-kimble. com/Courses/mis/Bureaucratic_Organisations. html Huysman, M. H. and de Wit, D. H. (2002) Knowledge Sharing in Practice. Springer Kalling, T. and Styhre, A. (2003). Knowledge Sharing in Organizations Kline, P. (1997) Ten Steps to a learning organization. Great River Books Senge, P. (2006) The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization. Double Day Business