Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

Weberian Model Of Bureaucracy: Criticism

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 5443 words Published: 2nd May 2017

Reference this

Bush (2006) defined Educational management as a field of study and practice concerned with the operation of educational organizations. He has also claimed several times that educational management needs to be essentially concerned with the purpose or goals of education since they give the fundamental sense of direction needed for effective management of educational organizations. He concluded that a singular all-inclusive theory of educational management does not simply exist as educational institutions are so diverse and even similar schools and colleges have to deal with completely different problems, which necessitate diverse approaches and solutions (Bush 2006).

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

2.0 Management, Administration and Leadership.

The concept of management often intersects with two parallel terminologies, namely leadership and administration. The difference is mainly regional according to Bush (2006).The term “Management” is commonly used in Europe, and Africa, where as “administration” is favored in the United States, Canada, and Australia. On the other hand the term “Leadership” is much more contemporary and it is of great interest in most developed countries (Bush 2006).

However other authors have differentiated these three concepts by claiming that they have opposing definitions. Cuban (1988) has provided a distinction between leadership and management namely leadership is “influencing others actions in achieving desirable ends” and Managing is “maintaining efficiently and effectively current organizational arrangements”. He also added that both managing and leading are equally important and he confer no special value to either as they are both needed in different situations and at different times in order for schools to function effectively and meet their goals (Bush 2006).

Bolman &Deal (1997) also talk about the importance of both leadership and management. He maintained that leading and managing are distinct. The objective perspective of the manager as well as the flashes of vision and commitment-wise leadership provides are what is needed by modern organizations (Bush 2006).

Furthermore Dimmock (1999) claimed that school leaders [experience] tensions between competing elements of leadership, management and administration. According to him leadership is the higher order tasks designed to improve staff, student and school performance, where as management is the routine maintenance of present operations and administration is the “overarching term”, which incorporates both leadership and management.

2.1 Leadership

Leadership has been defined by Chemers (1997) as “a process of social influence in which one person is able to enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task” (Chemers 1997).

From this definition we can understand that leadership involves a social influence process in which one individual exerts intentional influence over others to structure activities and relationships in a group or organization.

Bass and Stogdill (1990) added that leadership is the process of ”in¬‚uencing” others to attain common aims. Spillane, Harvelson and Diamond (2004) defined Leadership through another angle. They claimed “leadership is not simply a function of what a school principal, or indeed any other individual or group of leaders, knows and does. Rather, it is the activities engaged in by leaders, in interaction with others in particular contexts around specific tasks.”

Education researchers agreed that effective leadership is a key element to achieve school improvement. According to Harris (2002), research findings from diverse countries and different school contexts have revealed the powerful impact of leadership in securing school development and change. A further important aspect while practicing leadership is the level of power and control which schools and other educational institutions assert/maintain on their in-house management and operations (Bush 2003).

However, effective leadership styles in education can be as varied as the large number of schools. Therein lays the difficulty in providing accurate definitions of leadership. Accordingly, Fiddler (1997) pinpoints two main characteristics of leadership: a sense of purpose and confidence is engendered in followers and followers are influenced towards goal achievement.

He continued explaining that there are various factors determining the appropriate leadership approach that need to be adopted at any particular point in time, namely : the context and its pre-history; the nature of the followers; the particular issues involved; in addition to the predispositions of the leader (Fiddler 1997). Accordingly different leadership styles may need to be adopted to deal with specific circumstances.

Leithwood, Day, Sammons, Harris and Hopkins (2006), as cited by Crum, Sherman and Myran (2010), have summarized four core practices for successful school leadership as follows:

(1) Setting directions.

(2) Developing people.

(3) Redesigning the organization.

(4) Managing the instructional (teaching and learning) program.

2.1.1 Leadership theories

Scholars have come up with different leadership theories throughout history. It all started with the “Great Man theory” which implies that leaders are born and is not made (Hoy and Miskel 2004).

The idea that leadership is inherited further resulted in the trait approach of leadership. In 1927, Bowden carried out a significant study which associated leadership with personality. Hoy and Miskel (2004) cited the explanation of Bass and Stogdill (1990) concerning this leadership style: “Leaders were generally regarded as superior individuals who, because of fortunate inheritance or social circumstance, possessed qualities and abilities that differentiated them from people in general.”

After a thorough research, Stogdill (1948) concluded that leadership is not gained solely by some inherited traits or characteristics since different situations have great influence on the impact of traits. So he came up with the theory of situational leadership (Hoy and Miskel 2004; Turner, 2005).

Hunt and Larson (1977) came up with the behavioral model of leadership which implies that leadership can be taught and learned by way of teaching and observing leadership behaviors (Northhouse 2010). Behavioural theories are centered on the belief that great leaders are made, not born. The focus of this theory is the actions of the leaders, and it is not the qualities or states of the leaders (Hoy and Miskel 2004).

Spillane, Harvelson and Diamond (2004), Hemphill and Coons (1950), Kunz and Hoy (1976) and Mouton and Blake (1984) among others investigated on the concept of leadership as a series of behaviors. Their studies resulted in defining various taxonomies of behaviors, including ‘monitoring’, ‘consulting’, and ‘delegating’ as Hallinger and Hausman (1993) pointed out. Others like Lewin, White and Lippitt (1939) have identified other styles of behavior, such as autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire. Mouton and Blake (1964) named their findings on behavioral styles as employee-oriented and directive where as Likert called his as task-oriented and relationship-oriented and he has discussed about the relationship between these behaviors (Spillane et al. 2004). More recently Yukl (2002) developed three fundamental classes of leader behavior and he described them as Task-oriented behaviors, Relations-oriented behaviors and Change-oriented behaviors (Hoy & Miskel 2004).

In 1964 the contingency theory of leadership was developed by Fiedler (1967). According to him, leaders must complement the situation to his leadership behaviors for greater effectiveness (Spillane et al. 2004).

The evolution of leadership theories continued with the transactional and transformational theories in the early eighties and Burns (1978) is often accredited to be the father of these concepts. Transactional theories, concentrate on the role of supervision, organization and group performance. These theories establish leadership on a scheme of rewards and punishments (Hoy and Miskel 2004).

Transformational theories of leadership are considered as recent leadership theories and according to Bass (1990), this theory is an expansion of the transactional theory of leadership. Transformational leaders motivate and inspire others by helping the followers to see the importance and good side of the task. These leaders focus on the performance of group members, but they also encourage each individual to meet his or her full potential. Leaders having this style are often highly ethical and have moral standards (Hoy and Miskel, 2004; Turner, 2005)

2.2 Management

As Dimmock (1999) has stated, managing means being in charge of the day to day running of the school and it is the maintenance of the system.

Dash and Dash (2008) define management as “the primary force within any organization which coordinates the activities of its various systems in relation to its objectives”.

According to them, management can be considered not only as a theory but also as a process. The theory part comprises of the philosophy, Knowledge, art, concept, objectives, functions, principles and practices, models. The process part comprises of human relations, managing physical and financial resources, planning, organizing, decision-making, executing, directing and controlling people in order to meet the objectives set.

3.0 School and Structure

The School is a complex open social system. In this system the structure is a key element in transforming inputs into outputs. The structure, also called the bureaucratic expectations, defines our role and responsibilities (Hoy and Miskel 2004).

Hoy and Miskel (2004) explained the transformational process of a school using the diagram below:



Cultural System

(Shared Orientations)

Transformation Process

Political System

(Power Relations)

Individual System

(Cognition and Motivation)






Structural System

(Bureaucratic Expectations)

Figure 1Social-systems model for schools

They explained the five key elements within the transformational process. Structure is the bureaucratic expectations designed and organised to fulfill organisation’s goals. The Individual provides energy and capacity to achieve organisation’s goals and he is viewed in terms of needs, goals, beliefs, understanding of work roles (Hoy and Miskel 2004).

Mintzberg (1994) defines the structure of an organization as “the sum total of ways in which it divides its labor into distinct tasks and then achieves coordination among them”.

Hoy and Miskel (2004) have focused on structure since it is considered as the backbone of any organization, which is the framework under which we are all doing the necessary operations. The structure monitors operations at operational level of any organization. Within a structure, we are expected to make the whole machinery work. Structure provides order, cohesion and coherence.

All schools do not follow the same structure; some have an enabling or productive structure whereas others have a coercive or hindering structure (Hoy and Miskel 2004).

3.1 Enabling and Coercive bureaucracy

Lawson’s made a distinction between an enabling and a coercive bureaucracy. According to him, an enabling bureaucracy promotes creative, informal relations among all the employees irrespective of the levels of hierarchy. The more an organization has an enabling bureaucracy, the larger the benefits to workers and clients. In this type of bureaucracy, the workforce is considered to be an asset or a resource on which the leaders capitalize. To this end, the latter encourage and endorse professional norms and standards as they know that the workers want and need their work to be pleasant and significant. Leaders also provide training and supports to the workers to foster expertise and mastery, thus they could be trusted to make good and solid decisions. This kind of proficient and cooperative supervision is regarded as a supportive one for the workers. Moreover, workers’ participation is also solicited as they are aware that working conditions will determine the workers efficacy, effectiveness, and their loyalty.

In a coercive bureaucracy, norms and rules are not variable or open to alteration. Such a bureaucracy is considered as “mechanistic” since the whole organization functions, generally, “on automatic pilot” where there is a small number of people at the controls. All emphasis is on the respecting the norms and regulations and on the dutiful implementation of the appropriate procedures .Only the people at higher levels of the bureaucracy have a clear picture of the work needing to be performed and its relation to societal expectations and needs. Indeed the main function of the leadership hierarchy such as commissioners, managers, and supervisors is to secure submission from the workers via a strategic system of supervision and sanctions. The workers are expected to perform so as to secure their salaries and benefits which are their only incentives to be effective. Furthermore, in a coercive bureaucracy the workers are not trusted enough to participate in decision making and they are not provided with the appropriate expertise to give their superiors, thus the latter conduct close supervision on a daily basis. If the workers are suspected to not following the rules, “the supervisory and managerial grip tightens”. Consequently coercive bureaucracies become more and more hindering as in a vicious circle, bringing together a deterioration of the organization’s climate (Lawson).

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

3.2 Weberian Model of Bureaucracy and Its Criticism

Throughout the ages, many scholars have developed different organizational structures. But among them, the “Weberian model of Bureaucracy” is the most popular and is the theoretical basis of most contemporary study on structure. This model of bureaucracy was developed in late 1940s by Max Weber and all formal modern organizations, as well as schools, enclose aspects of the Weberian model of bureaucracy. This organizational structure comprises of five characteristics namely the Division of labour and specialization, the impersonal orientation, the hierarchy of authority, the rules and regulations and the career orientation (Hoy and Miskel 2004).

Despite being largely utilized, the Weberian model has quite some limitations. Weber describes organisation as a non-living thing which can be easily moulded, but open-social system involves people and cannot be viewed as non-living. Moreover people are not all rational and well structured. Weber is describing an ideal situation, not made up of reality and on the other hand organisation is made up of people and people change, not everybody wants to attain the highest level of efficiency. Hence, there are bound to be major dysfunctions in Weberian model since this bureaucracy is made up of people and not everybody is rational, abiding and cooperative, complient, disciplined. His theory does not deal with internal contradictions of elements in the model (Hoy and Miskel 2004).

Concerning the Hierarchy of authority its dysfunctions is about the distortion and blockage in communication. Every level in hierarchy is a potential communication block if subordinates are reluctant to communicate anything that will make look bad in the eye of their superior. The main dysfunctions of rules and regulations is the goal displacement, rules become ends in themselves and administrators focus too much on rules and consequently ignore certain important goals. Moreover rules and regulations can engender legalist attitude. Another critics of rules is that they are either punishment centred or representative (Hoy and Miskel 2004).

Career orientation has also dysfunctions. Rapid promotion of high-achievers might produce discontent of loyal, hard working senior employees who are not as productive or creative. The Weberian model of bureaucracy also suffered from Feminist critique such as qualified women do not receive equal treatment or compensation. The feminine side is often suppressed and devalued by bureaucracies. Last, the Weberian model is criticized for having not taken into consideration the informal organization. Informal social exchanges produce differences in social relations and new networks of communication emerge. Informal organisation is not an enemy to be suppressed but rather a useful vehicle for improving efficiency (Hoy and Miskel 2004).

4.0 School Management

As stated above, schools are social organizations with set objectives and their human, financial, material and physical resources (Dash and Dash 2008).

The one responsible for managing all these resources is the principal or the head-master. Here is a list of his expected duties: find the best and cheapest way to achieve the objectives, careful planning, organization of human resources and materials, using the physical resources in the best way, controlling and monitoring all the different school activities, decision-making and the evaluation of the progress and achievements. In short, “school management means the use of people and other resources to accomplish the objectives of the school.” Such was the definition of Kutz and Boone (1984), quoted by Dash and Dash (2008).

School management is divided into two parts: internal management and external management. Internal management comprises of managing the administrative works and the human, financial and material and physical resources. On the other hand, the external management is the relationship with the community, department and other external stakeholders of the school (Dash and Dash 2008).

Decision-making in many schools is also split into different lines of work and the four main domains are the personnel management, the financial resources, the student policies and the curriculum and instruction. School decision-making also consists of other domains such as the development of Infrastructure, maintenance and security (Economic note 2007).

5.0 School Leadership

School leadership is to identify, to acquire, to allocate, to co-ordinate, and to make use of the social, material, and cultural assets which are essential for establishing the appropriate environment in which teaching and learning will be possible. Leadership also implies the mobilization of the human resources such as the school personnel and clients so as to spot, handle, and assume the duty of changing instruction. Adding to that, they should harness and mobilize the resources required to sustain the transformation in the teaching and learning process (Spillane 2005).

6.0 Reforms in School Management

From the time that schools have been recognized as formal institution, it has known numerous changes in different spheres and it is continuously being subject to change and transformation. Recently both teachers and schools have experienced an unprecedented rate of change having both positive and negative outcomes (Aspinwall 1996).

Pedler, Burgoyne and Boydell (1991) define the learning organisation as: “an organisation that facilitates the learning of all its members and continuously transforms itself in order to meet its strategic objectives.” (Coldwell, Williamson and Cameron 2007).

Caldwell (2005) defined Transformation as “significant, systematic, sustainable change, securing high level achievements in all settings.”

6.1 How to become “A Great School”?

Hopkins (2005) explains how a school can become great and he suggest various strategies, known as the “key drivers” in order to meet this end. These key drivers are personalised learning, professionalised teaching, networking and innovation and intelligent accountability. He argues that ‘every school a great school’ is not just a slogan, but an aspiration for the next stage of educational reform, in which each student has the opportunity to reach their potential.”

Hargreaves (2003) affirmed that school as a learning organization has to motivate teachers and create new professional knowledge. School has got the responsibility to ensure that teachers have got high morale, they are given continuous development, they are provided with the appropriate platform to engage actively in innovation so as things can be done differently.

To be a great school requires strategies such as capacity building of and by the key actors, providing access and opportunities and transformation. Capacity development is important and great school will need to have further resources and see how these are being developed (Hopkins 2005).

Hopkins (2005) in his explanation on the key drivers, mentioned that the activities should be decentralized and the school should provide greater freedom and authority from the centre to the periphery for the school to work effectively. The re-tooling of school structures will certainly help to keep the strength of the school system (Hopkins 2005).

Access to best practice and quality professional development will help to improve performance and achievement. Transfer of best practice is not the easiest; sharing of experience is an important barrier. Alliance is important- should borrow the best practice, modify it and implement it in our own way. The element of flexibility in utilization of best practice is important. Schools as a learning organization have to motivate teachers and create new professional knowledge at the level of the school. This is important in order to help to motivate the teachers keeping a high morale and not to become disgruntled. Professional development should go side by side with leadership development (Hopkins 2005).

Senge (1990) defined a learning organization as one “…where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free and where people are continually learning how to learn together” (Johnston and Caldwell 2001).

To make optimum use of its human resources, an organization must make sure that everyone should be prepared to learn at every opportunity. Organizations will only succeed when learning will be seen as a continuous need for each individual. However, the learning organization will not become one by a sudden and remarkable transformation, rather it should proceed by developing gradually each of the five disciplines, namely, systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, shared vision and team learning (Johnston and Caldwell 2001).

Intelligent accountability will only be possible if there is close monitoring of every aspect of school life. Monitoring of performance data is crucial and eventually it leads to the development of a framework for effective, ongoing self-evaluation of the level of the school (Hopkins 2005).

7.0 Decentralization of School Management

In the 1980s and 1990s, a new international trend emerged in many developed countries throughout the world, that of decentralization of their education system. It was obvious that large, centralized bureaucracies didn’t possessed the necessary qualities to keep pace with the rapidly changing economic realities. According to Levacic (1998) and Raab (2000), the step was to decentralize the decision-making from the central government to the local school level and to share the decision-making among the principal, teachers, parents, community members and students at the school level (Ng and Chan 2008).

Accordingly, many schools adopted the school-based reforms, with a goal to upgrade the quality of education, which is expected to sustain the state competitiveness internationally. Ng and Chan (2008) further enumerated various examples of such school-based reforms. These are

“In the UK, the Educational Reform Acts of 1988 and 1993 introduced the reforms of Local Management of Schools and Grant-maintained Schools. In the USA, there were similar reforms of Site-based Management and School-based Leadership. In Australia, the Schools of the Future and Better Schools were also based on a school-based reform approach. According to School-based Management published by the United Nations Educational, Scienti¬c and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (Abu-Duhou 1999), many other examples could be found in Europe, Asian and Latin America countries” (Ng and Chan 2008).

They further interpreted such a collective shift as a means to enhance the education quality, responding to globalization and to develop the knowledge-based economy. This decentralization archetype is expected to provide greater freedom and responsibility to principals, teachers, students and parents, in domains like the school decision making about budgets, personnel and the curriculum. Such a freedom will enable them to establish more effective learning environments for the students (Ng and Chan 2008).

The Economic Note (2007) also examined this particular form of “market-based education reform” known as decentralization of school management which has become more and more popular during the recent years. Also known as school-based management, the decentralization of school management can be in various modes and has emerged in many forms in different countries.

The main argument brought to support decentralization is that “principals, teachers and parents are best placed to make decisions about how a school’s resources should be organized to meet the needs of students and the wider community” (Economic note 2007).

7.1 Criticism of Decentralisation

Many advantages have been observed such as an improvement in educational outcomes due to the enhanced management and accountability of schools and examples of that are: an increase in the test scores and a decrease in drop-out rates. Another advantage is a more effective organization as an autonomous school had the strongly influences the overall quality of the school organization (Economic Note 2007).

Other prospective benefits from decentralization are an increase in efficiency and innovation in the teaching and learning process of education, a reduction in the educational bureaucracy, schools become more receptive to the needs of the local communities, the accountability is reinforced and an increased commitment with the schools, thus increasing the financial support. Increased self-management for schools is a key element in whichever strategy to provide greater choice in education (Economic note 2007).

In World Bank (2007b), the authors provide a comprehensive analysis of case studies in some countries where “the process of decentralization of authority to the local-level” is in force from the past decades.

Among the various strategies brought by Governments around the world for the improvement of financing and delivering of education services and more recently to improve the quality and to increase quantity of enrollment rates, is the decentralization of educational decision-making. Defenders of this strategy argue that such type of decentralization encourages demand and it guarantees that schools now echo priorities and values of the local communities (World Bank 2007b).

In conferring the freedom to voice out and the decision-making power to local stakeholders, who is more knowledgeable about the local education systems than the chief policymakers, decentralization can bring greater progress to educational outcomes thus increasing the clients’ satisfaction (World Bank 2007b).

The decentralization of decision-making in education has various definitions and names but it is most commonly known as School-based Management (SBM). However they are all relevant in decentralizing authority from the central government down to school level (World Bank 2007b).

8.0 School-based Management or Self Managing School

Caldwell (2005) has observed that the governments of every country aim at transforming their schools. Transformation is only attained when “significant, systematic, and sustained change has occurred”, thus improving outcomes for every students in whichever settings and contributing socially and economically to a country. One of the strategies invariably proposed to meet this goal is the School-based management.

The management of a school is in no way a simple task, the head of school alone will not be able to attend to all these duties. As Dash and Dash (2008) have rightly said “School management is a cooperative human endeavour.” They further continued by explaining that for an effective school management, teachers, parents, students and even the community members have to cooperate with the head of school even if he is the manager of “this human enterprise”.

Through the literature, we have come across several definitions of school-based management where one complements the other. Some of them are worth noting:

The Economic Note (2007) defined School-based management as “the systematic decentralization to the school level of authority and responsibility to make decisions on significant matters related to school operations within a centrally determined framework of goals, policies, curriculum, standards, and accountability.”

In the World Bank (2007b), two main definitions were quoted. First, Caldwell (2005) definition “SBM is the decentralization of authority from the central government to the school level”. Secondly the definition of Malen, Ogawa and Kranz (1990): “School-based management can be viewed conceptually as a formal alteration of governance structures, as a form of decentralization that identi¬es the individual school as the primary unit of improvement and relies on the redistribution of decision-making authority as the primary means through which improvement might be stimulated and sustained”(World Bank 2007b).

Bush and Gamage (2001) quoted a definition of school-based management given by Caldwell and Spinks (1988) as a self-managing school as one for which there has been major and steady decentralisation to the school level of authority to make decisions related to the distribution of resources.

Decentralization of school management is another way of calling the above mentioned cooperation. Decentralization or school-based management varies from country to country and it can take different shapes (Economic Note 2007).

“School-based management has many shades of meaning. It has been implemented in different ways and for different reasons and at different rates in different settings,” as Caldwell (2005) pointed out.

A large number of countries in the world have adopted the school-based management in different forms of self-governance according to their specific context. However each of them revolves around the same central idea that greater autonomy will lead to improved educational outcomes (Bush and Gamage 2001) and that there has been an increase in authority and responsibility at the school level, but within a centrally-determined framework that ensures that a sense of system is sustained (Caldwell 2005).

The authority is typically delegated to the governing bodies at school level which consist of representatives of significant stakeholders, at the same time as the delegation of the operational management to the principal. The concept of self-governance is centered on the idea that decision-making concerning groups of individual within the educational system should be in the hand of those within the schools in


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: