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Typical Decisions Plotted by Amount of Participation and Degree of Centricity for a Hypothetical Higher Education Institution.

Bureaucratic Model

Authors: Max Weber

Bess, J., Dee, J. (2012). Bureaucratic forms and their limitations. Understanding college and university organizations: Theories for effective policy and practice. (p. 200-238). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

The bureaucratic model contains the following elements:

  • Division of Labor: specialized tasks

  • Procedural specification: standardization

  • Rules: operations and activities based on written rules

  • Impersonality: universal application of rules

  • Selection and promotion based on objective criteria: competence within constraints of seniority

  • Hierarchy of authority: levels of status and authority that extended to official duties only

  • Fixed ranges for salaries

  • Assured and visible career track

  • Technical training of officials

  • Appointment by merit

Centralization, Decentralization, and Participation

Author: Helsabeck

Bess, J., Dee, J. (2012). Bureaucratic forms and their limitations. Understanding college and university organizations: Theories for effective policy and practice. (p. 200-238). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Centralization, decentralization, and participation relates to how individuals participate within an organization. Centralization suggests that members of the organization are not directly participating in the decision making process; whereas, decentralization suggests that members are more directly related to the decision making process. There are four types of decisions that are necessary within an organization: authority, recourse allocation, resource acquisition, and production.

Loose Coupling Theory

Author: Karl Weick

Bess, J., Dee, J. (2012). Bureaucratic forms and their limitations. Understanding college and university organizations: Theories for effective policy and practice. (p. 200-238). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Loose coupling theory suggests that system components have weak or indirect linkages but the components remain responsive to each other. Couplings are connections between the different parts of the system and may not be well defined. It emerges due to cognitive limitations of the individuals in the system. Individuals in the system pay attention to only their department and tune out other areas. The source of cohesion and connectedness in loosely coupled systems is considered collective action.

Forms of Coupling

Type of Coupling

Degrees of Autonomy

Extent of Responsiveness

Loose coupling

Autonomous units

Responsiveness across units

Decoupling

Autonomous units

Lack of responsiveness

Tight coupling

Lack of Autonomy

Responsiveness enforced, controlled

Structuration Theory

Author: Anthony Giddens

Bess, J., Dee, J. (2012). Bureaucratic forms and their limitations. Understanding college and university organizations: Theories for effective policy and practice. (p. 200-238). Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Structures within an organization are created by Individuals and groups who are active agents. Organizational structures dictate organizational behavior. The theory suggests that the social system is defined by the relational and communication patterns that emerge within the group and between the group and other social systems. Structures are considered rules and resources whereas rules are decision modalities adopted by the group. Resources are considered the knowledge frameworks. Structuration is the process in which social systems are produced and redefined continually through the member's use of the structures. The theory also suggests that organizational structures can be stable because interaction between the individuals and the organization have formed and are supported out of habit.

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