Classical Theory Structure
By way of illustration, in this document we will describe and explain the
classical structural theory as presented by Max Weber. To highlight the
advantages and disadvantages of this classical structure as used in a realistic
modern organization we will apply this theroy as used today in our public police
Classical Structural Theory
In the classical structural theory a person is hired for their technical
expertise rather than on the recommendation of a connection from within the
company. Generally these people are more inclined to work in very well-defined
process oriented positions. Employees are given titles in which the authority
to perform specific duties are vested. Outside of the defined position the
employee has 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 held that security in a position
was gained by tenure. For motivated individuals who want to advance their
careers, hard work and achievement are viewed in this type of organization as
the best way to develop a good rapport with the supervisor. Because
responsibility is so easily laid on individuals, awarding recognition on an
individual basis is the rule.
In today’s society, even as we progress from the so-called Industrial Age
to the Information Age, such organizations still exist. The police department
is a high visibility organization that continues to utilize the ideas founded in
classical theory. Potential officers are given a series of tests, both physical
and mental, which determine to a great extent their probability of being hired.
In line with Weber’s work, each position in the department has a title which is
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 looses 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.
Advantages of Classical Structural Theory
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 unison
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.
Disadvantages of Classical Structural Theory
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 maybe 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 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
As a result of several years of this type of structure, and the culmination
of several high tech jobs in the market place, 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.