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Bureaucracy and Communication

George Cheney

Subject Cultural Studies
Communication Studies » Organizational Communication

People Weber, Max

Key-Topics authority

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


In his monumental work Economy and society , Weber (1978 , 1st pub. 1922), explained bureaucracy both in terms of principles of societal order and with respect to its place in the modern world. In seeking to answer the fundamental question “How do we understand un-coerced obedience?” Weber examined the history of societies and empires ranging from ancient China to the United States, arguing that kernel elements of the bureaucratic form could be seen in record-keeping on personnel at least 5,000 years ago. More important, Weber developed his three ideal types of authority and, by extension, organization from that historical survey and comparative analysis. In that sense, it is appropriate to speak of the ways bureaucracy arose through cultural patterns and experience ( Crozier 1964 ). The authority types and their corresponding organizational manifestations are: charismatic authority (and the corresponding organizational type of a religious sect), traditional authority (and monarchy), and legal-rational authority (and bureaucracy). With the dawn of the industrial revolution in 1750, the growth of the factory system, the spread of the railroads, and the appearance of the telegraph in the nineteenth century, and the advance of electronic communication in the first half of the twentieth century, bureaucracy became the system of choice for organizations of great size and geographic ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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