Classical Theory Structure Introduction. In this document, we will describe and explain the classical structural theory as presented by Max Weber. We will also apply this theory as used today in our public police department to highlight its advantages and disadvantages.
Classical Structural Theory. In the classical structural theory, a person is hired for their technical expertise rather than through a recommendation from within the company. Generally, these individuals are more inclined to work in well-defined, process-oriented positions. Employees are given titles that vest them with the authority to perform specific duties. Outside of their defined position, employees have little or no authority.
Lines of authority and positions are clearly defined by formally established rules and regulations that help to ensure uniformity of operations and provide for continuity of business, as well as making responsibility easy to place. In his 10 points, Weber implied that procedures imposed on all who fall within their reach are formal and impersonal (Pace & Faules, 1994, p. 30-31). In addition to these procedures, it is suggested that an attitude of discipline is an integral part of the organization that wants to promote efficiency (Pace & Faules, 1994, chapter 3). They are intentionally designed without attention to personal or emotional considerations to prevent distortion of employees’ rational judgment in carrying out their assigned duties.
Employees working in a classically structured organization are encouraged to maintain distinction between their private and professional lives. The last tenet of Max Weber’s theory involves security and advancement. He believed that security in a position was gained through tenure. For motivated individuals who want to advance their careers, hard work and achievement are viewed as the best way to develop a good rapport with their supervisor.
Because responsibility is easily laid on individuals, recognition is typically awarded on an individual basis. Even as we progress from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, such organizations still exist. The police department is a high visibility organization that continues to utilize classical theory. Potential officers undergo physical and mental tests that determine their probability of being hired. In line with Weber’s work, each position in the department has a title representative of their level in the hierarchy (Pace & Faules, 1994, p. 30-31).
Strict self-discipline is praised, and there are many policies in place to ensure that rational judgment is maintained. The most common way to advance in the police department is through time on the job. Seniority, especially when combined with competency, is given a great deal of weight. Maintaining the premise that authority is vested not in a person but in the position, when an officer leaves the force, he or she loses the power to chase criminals through red lights, arrest drug lords, and perform other duties for which the authority rises out of the position once held.
The opinion that easily identifiable structure and tightly managed rules and regulations are advantageous in public organizations is widely held.
Structure and policy are of tremendous interest to all those interested in the uniformity and continuity of public safety. The advantages of the classical structure within our example have multiple impacts on how the organization operates. As affirmed by Frederick Taylor, with a clear and concise reporting path, we can visualize how the police department utilizes this in their daily operations (Pace & Faules, 1994, p. 32-33).
In a crisis situation, it is imperative that the police department work in a unified direction with as little verbal interaction as possible. This allows partners to communicate with a structural nonverbal direction. Strict rules guiding the behavior of officers on duty help to protect the public from officers acting out domestic aggressions at work. In this way, the separation of private and professional lives is a distinct advantage.
Despite the many advantages associated with this type of arrangement within the police department, a number of disadvantages also exist. For employees, goals of advancement may be slow to realize due to the tenure required to obtain various levels in the hierarchy.
In addition to tenure, employees of the police department are also limited by budget restraints and the number of employees needed to provide an acceptable level of service. For the public, the rules and regulations followed by officers leave little room for consideration of individual circumstances.
As a result of several years of this type of structure and the culmination of several high-tech jobs in the marketplace, many companies are beginning to move away from this type of organization. Companies have come to realize that employees’ personal goals and environment are critical to their work performance, which classical structure tends to stagnate. Thus, it is the consensus of the group that classically structured organizations should start to examine the impacts that a more subjective approach to organizing may have on their specific organizations.