Bureaucracy as a Tool in School Administration, a Study of Max Weber’s Approach to Bureaucracy.

Bureaucracy As A Tool For Administration In Schools, A Study Of Max Weber’s Approach By Andrew Muringani. Bureaucracy is one of the rational structures that are playing in an over-increasing role in modern society. Thus bureaucracy is the key feature of an organization. In schools bureaucracy endures because of the assurance of order, rationality, accountability and stability it provides to the public. The school as a system has goals to meet. The need of mass administration makes it today completely indispensable.

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Thus this write up will examine Max Weber’s theory of bureaucracy and it will explain its applicability into the education system. Bureaucracy is identified as an organization with a hierarchy of paid, full-time officials who are formed of command. This implies that bureaucracy in schools is concerned with mass leadership whereby the power and authority is decentralized to different departments. For example at schools we have music sports health departments et-cetera. All these have different leaders allocated to them.

Bureaucracy is deeply rooted in rationalization. Thus rational action involves a clear awareness of a goal. Rational action involves a clear awareness of a goal. Weber’s rational action is the methodical attainment of definably given and practical end by means of an increasingly precise calculation of means (Haralambos and Holborn 1991). Bureaucracy is a model of organization design based on legitimate and formal system of authority. Most people associate bureaucracy with “red tape”, rigidity and passing buck.

Weber viewed the bureaucratic form of organization as logical rational and efficient. Bureaucratization involves precise calculation of the means to attain the goals and systematically eliminates those factors which stand in the way of the achievement of its objectives. Haralambos and Holborn (1991) posit that Weber defined bureaucracy as a hierarchical organization designed rationally to coordinate the work of many individuals in the pursuit of large scale administrative tasks and organizational goals.

Thus it should have a clear chain of authority from top to bottom of the school system. Bureaucracy is capable of attaining the highest degree of efficiency and this sense formally the rational known means of exercising authority over human beings. In education system the incumbents productivity. Decentralization occurs when an organization shares some of its power with other groups particularly those that are either geographically disposed or are responsible for specific functions or are given jurisdiction over specific physical location (Manhood 1983: 4).

Implying that the key elements in decentralization are power, authority, and responsibility which are diffused in such a way that they flow from the center of the periphery to sections of the periphery in a manner deliberately decided upon by the center. Makumbe (1998) posits that decentralization is mere dispersal of branches of the central government ministry from the Capital to the periphery or subdividing the states’ territory into smaller units and institutions. These are given powers and administrative functions pertaining to their designated areas of specialization.

Those institutions may in turn transfer some of their power and authority to lower levels in designated areas. This implies that responsibilities are transferred from the Head to as low as pupils, thus making everyone a part of the system. Weber distinguished the ideal typical bureaucracy from the ideal typical bureaucrat. He conceived bureaucracies as structures and bureaucrats as positions in those stretches. The ideal typical bureaucracy is a type of organization with basic units which are offices organized in a hierarchical manner rules, functions, written documents and means of compulsion.

Haralambos and Holborn [1991] posit that bureaucracy is a rule through a desk or office that is a form of organization built on the preparation and dispatch of written documents. Thus each office has a specified sphere of competence. The office carries with it a set of obligations to perform various functions and the means of compulsion required to do the job. This implies that the school is a formal organization which is hierarchical in nature from old development community, Head of the station, senior teacher, staff, prefects and finally pupils.

The positions within structures are occupied by members who consciously relate to each other to achieve a set of objectives. In bureaucratic model schools are viewed as having hierarchical authority with formal chains of command between the different levels. Schools pursue those goals determined by the official leaders at the apex of the pyramid. Decision-making is still deemed to be rational, based on a careful evaluation of alternatives and a considered choice of the most appropriate option. Thus the existence of various administrative offices reduces the workload and congestion at school.

The issues can be solved at classroom level by the teacher whereas cases of indiscipline such as breaking school property can be solved by the head and the disciplinary committee. This means that the school administrators strictly controlled and disciplined activities since they have legitimate power. However the issue of hierarchy slows down the pace at which things are to be done. For example if the teacher wants to go on leave, be it a vacation or manpower development leave. The teacher is not allowed to desert the station before the permanent secretary’s approval.

The forms need to pass through various offices starting from the head’s, district offices, provincial office and finally the head office. All these offices needs to sign the forms. More so if they are corrections to be made by the teacher, the flows will then have to follow the same channel and even on their return. Teachers can be charged out to ignorance in the event that new policy has been introduced into the system, since circulars may take too long to reach the furthest school in the district from the head office.

Because of this long chain of communication that is likely with that information will reach to the last person while it has lost truthful flavour is especially on documented instructions at classroom level. The bureaucracy is founded on rational legal authority. This type of authority rests on the belief in the legality of formal rules and hierarchy and in the right of these elevated in the hierarchies and in the right of those elevated in the hierarchy to possess, authority and issue commands. Authority is given to officials based on their skills, position and authority placed formally in each position.

Rational legal authority can take a variety of structural forms but the form that most interested Weber was bureaucracy which he considered “the purest type of exercise of legal authority” that every position in the hierarchy has powers which are legitimate. Decision-making can be done in the highest positions of the pyramidal structure. From a technical point of view of bureaucracy is capable of attaining the highest degree of efficiency and is in this sense formally the most rational known means of exercising authority. It is bound by rules and regulations which govern its operation.

Thus they are clearly laid down rules which the human resources should abide. Several of its elements such as reliance on rules and employment based on expertise do, in fact, often improve efficiency. This implies that it is transparent and can be seen to be fair in school operations. In Zimbabwe in education system, teachers operate under the guidance of the statutory instruments and even schools pupils also operate as a school for rules and particularly curriculum which provides basis on how to work. All of these provide an educational ethics hence code of conduct.

Rules should be more specific to govern official’s decisions and actions. These formal rules should be relatively stable, exhaustive and easily understood. Human resources should operate knowing that they do not own offices but they occupy the offices. Personal property should be separated from official property the staff needs to understand the rules regarding corporal punishment, that teaches are not allowed to administer it to pupils. Only the school just permitted to do so or he or she may think to delegates at the members of the staff.

He or she must first explain the offense committed by the child. Number of whips must also be recorded for future reference. There must also be some members of staff to act as witnesses. However the is too much emphasis on rules which are rigid and inflexible which leads to no freedom. Members who at the bottom do not contribution to watch the formulation of rules. They are just the receiving end of everything. For example the introduction of key results area as a policy in government schools is being criticized for being laborious in paperwork.

The teacher will spend most of his time preparing the papers at the expense of teaching the children which is his or her core business. More so because of rules segregates official creativity as something distinct from the sphere of private life. The bureaucratic model results inflexibility and rigidity. Once rules are created and put into place making exceptions or changing them is often difficult. In addition the bureaucracy often result in the neglect of human and social processes within the organization. In bureaucracy is a fixed division of labor. The jurisdictional areas are learly specified and each has a set of official duties and rights that cannot be changed at the whim of the leader. The offices carry with them a set of obligations to perform various functions in the means of compulsion required to do the job. Thus in bureaucracy each member has a specific task to for the school organization to meet its objectives. According to Wikipedia. org bureaucracy is a division of labor applied to administration. It is the rules will desk or office that is a form of organization built on the preparation and dispatch of written documents.

This implies that various tasks allocated to different specialized human resources who work for the common good of the organization. The primary schools are comprised of various levels of leadership. Like the human body it is different parts but all these parts work together harmoniously for the common good of the school. Failure by one of these hierarchies to function adversely will affect the entire system since they are integrated and also playing complimentary roles. Thus at school different teachers allocated to different roles at school.

That’s when we find sports coordinator, entertainment coordinator, school health master, garden master, the headmaster, teacher in charge etc. Promotion can also be based on seniority and credentials. This division of labor should minimize arbitrary assignment of duties found in more to traditional structures in which the division of labor was not firm and regular and in which the leader could change the duties at any time. However interpersonal relations is based on positions not on personalities. Thus in primary schools the top management which happens to be the Head, deputy and senior teacher seem to associate.

They tried by all means to avoid their subordinates in order to maintain dignity as well as hegemony. In bureaucracy selection is based on qualification. Officials are recruited based in the credentials and appointed not elected to the office. People are compensated with salary. Thus should supplant more particularistic ways of staffing found where officials were often selected June to their relations to leader or social ranks. Officials are appointed on the basis of technical knowledge and expertise [Haralambos and Holborn 1991] thus in schools people fill posts according to what the studied.

The issue of credentials can be seen through the pyramid structure that is as you go higher than that of the qualifications. Thus people are promoted based on meritocracy. Too much importance is given to technical knowledge and qualification of the employees. Dedication and commitment of the employees is no longer considered. Order no one can conclude that Max Weber viewed the bureaucratic elements as the solutions to problems or defects with earlier and more traditional administrative system. He described an ideal bureaucracy as a theory of administration based on rational legal authority systems.

The bureaucratic structure wants to great extents protect employees from arbitrary killings from leaders and with potentially give a greater sense of security to the employees. He view those elements as part of a total system, which combined and instituted effectively would increase effectiveness and efficiency of administrative structure. References en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Bureaucracy http://www. oppapers. com/essays/Max-Weber-s-Contribution-To-Educational-Administration/561018 www. bustingbureaucracy. com/excerpts/weber. htm www. umanities. mq. edu. au/Ockham/y64l09. html faculty. babson. edu/krollag/org_site/org… /weber_bureau. html Griffin H (2002) Management USA, Houghton Mifflin Company Haralambos and Holborn (1991) Sociology: Themes and Perspectives, London, Harper and Collins Publishers Manhood P. (1983)Local Government in the Third World The Experiences of Tropical Africa Preedy, Gatler and Levaac (1997)Educational Management Strategy Quality and Research Bistol, Redwood Books Ritzer G. (2008)Sociological Theory New York, McGraw Hill Higher Education


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