Organizations

Topic: Elements Of Social Interaction

A collection of individuals joining together to coordinate their interactions toward a specific purpose is known as an organization.

A formal organization has its own set of distinct characteristics, including well-defined rules and regulations, an organizational structure, and determined objectives and policies, among other characteristics. The formal structure of an organization or group includes a fixed set of rules for intra-organization procedures and structures. The formal structure of a group or organization includes a fixed set of rules of procedures and structures, usually set out in writing, with a language of rules that ostensibly leave little discretion for interpretation. In some societies and organizations, such rules may be strictly followed; in others, they may be little more than an empty formalism.

bureaucracy, one type of formal organization, has a particular focus on efficiency and effectiveness to accomplish the goals of the organization. Max Weber identified several characteristics of an ideal bureaucracy, all of which are aimed at increasing efficiency. An ideal bureaucracy is specialized and organized in a clear hierarchy. There are written rules and regulations with thorough record-keeping. To prevent distraction from the organization’s goals, an ideal bureaucracy is impersonal and impartial.

The iron law of oligarchy criticizes the hierarchal nature of bureaucracy, stating that people at the top of the hierarchy will inevitably come to value their power over the purpose of the organization. As a result, leadership will focus more on staying in power than on achieving the bureaucracy’s goals.

Sociologist George Ritzer theorizes “McDonaldization” as a contemporary form of rationalization. Where Max Weber used the model of the bureaucracy to represent the direction of this changing society, Ritzer sees the fast-food restaurant as having become a more representative contemporary paradigm in contemporary societies. In Ritzer’s book, McDonald’s serves as the case model of this process in the 1990s.

According to Ritzer, McDonaldization is comprised of four main components: efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control.

  • Efficiency: The optimal method for accomplishing a task. Efficiency in McDonaldization means that every aspect of the organization is geared toward the minimization of time. From a customer perspective, efficiency is achieving the fastest way to get from being hungry to being full.
  • Calculability: Refers to the quantifiable objectives of fast-food chains. McDonaldization developed the notion that quantity equals quality, and that a large amount of product delivered to the customer in a short amount of time is the same as a high quality product. This allows people to quantify how much they’re getting versus how much they’re paying. Workers in these organizations are judged by how fast they accomplish tasks instead of the quality of work they do. This relates to the idea of availability versus variety – you can get a lot of one thing, but not necessarily the thing you want. Increase in volume does not equate to increase in choice.
  • Predictability: The idea that no matter where a person goes, they will receive the same service and receive the same product every time they interact with the McDonaldized organization. This also applies to the workers in those organizations. Their tasks are highly repetitive, highly routine, and predictable.
  • Control: Employees become standardized and replaced by non-human technologies. Lastly, as part of standardization, cultural hybridization occurs. Ritzer argues that as McDonald’s enters a country, consumer patterns are unified, and starting with the food chains, local cultures are westernized.


Key Points

• A formal organization has its own set of distinct characteristics, including well-defined rules and regulations, an organizational structure, and determined objectives and policies, among other characteristics.

• Formal rules are often adapted to subjective interests, giving the practical everyday life of an organization more informality.

• A bureaucracy, one type of formal organization, has a particular focus on efficiency and effectiveness to accomplish the goals of the organization. To prevent distraction from the organization’s goals, an ideal bureaucracy is impersonal and impartial.

• The iron law of oligarchy criticizes the hierarchal nature of bureaucracy, stating that people at the top of the hierarchy will inevitably come to value their power over the purpose of the organization. As a result, leadership will focus more on staying in power than on achieving the bureaucracy’s goals.

• In Ritzer’s reconceptualization, McDonaldization is the process of rationalization that Weber found inherent in bureaucracies extended to fast-food chains such as McDonalds under globalization.

• According to Ritzer, McDonaldization is comprised of four main components: efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control.

• The first one, efficiency, is geared toward the minimization of time as the optimal method for accomplishing a task. The second, calculability, refers to the quantifiable objectives of fast-food chains, seeing quantity as quality.

• With the rise of predictability, the third component, all consumers can predict receiving the same service and the same product every time they interact with the McDonaldized organization. Under control, the fourth component, employees become standardized and replaced by non-human technologies.


Key Terms

procedure: A particular method for performing a task

formal organization: It is a fixed set of rules of intra-organization procedures and structures.

bureaucracy: Has a particular focus on efficiency and effectiveness to accomplish the goals of the organization

Max Weber: (1864–1920) a German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself

Iron law of oligarchy: a political theory which claims that rule by an elite is inevitable as an iron law within any democratic organization as part of the tactical and technical necessities of organization

McDonaldization: a phenomenon that occurs when society, its institutions, and its organizations are adapted to have the same characteristics that are found in fast-food chains. These include efficiency, calculability, predictability and standardization, and control



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