From my own understanding, rationality is the kind of thinking that a group of people or an individual wish to have to attain their goals if they are conscious of their best interests. Thinking is about the goals, beliefs, and decisions that individuals and organizations have. Rational beliefs are coherent rather than contradictory, but they should match the person’s experience. The behavior should be aimed at achieving some goals.
Decision-making is important, and it should be based on evaluation of the cost and the benefits of the behavior. Decisions, which result in more gain than pain, are preferred. Lastly, rationality involves utility maximization, the effort to minimize losses or disadvantages and increase the advantages.
The question whether behaviors and structures of an organization are rational or not has been a controversial issue. Using the works of Weber; DiMaggio and Powell, the paper will discuss differences perceptions and their contributions of organizations to making less or more irrational decisions by human beings (Handel 243).
Many people have the tendency to view their own actions, words, and thoughts as rational and consider other people’s views and perceptions as irrational. Irrational actions and opinions are those that arise from inadequate reasoning, emotional distress, and insufficient thoughts.
Organizations are mainly designed to achieve specific goals. According to Handel (244), organizations are social structures formed by a group of people, working under strict rules and regulations with the aim of meeting certain objectives. Organizations involve purposeful, deliberate, and conscious cooperation among the members.
The question whether behaviors and structures of an organization are rational or not has been a controversial issue. Using the works of Weber; DiMaggio and Powell, the paper will discuss contributions of organizations to making less or more irrational decisions by human beings.
Weber highlights in the “Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism” that people are imprisoned by rationalist order imposed by capitalism, which becomes their iron cage. In his bureaucracy theory, he argues that rationality is a powerful and efficient way of controlling human beings.
After its establishment, the power of bureaucracy is not reversible. Societies have been haunted by the metaphor of iron cage because of increase in spread of bureaucracy. Organizational rationalization must, however, change even though the spread of bureaucracy increased widely eight years after release of Max Webber’s documentations.
According to Webber, there are three main causes of bureaucracy, so there is an increased need for leaders to control citizens, states, and markets in competing capitalist societies, as well as demand for equality by middle classmen. Webber points out competition in the market as the main cause of bureaucracy (Handel 244).
DiMaggio and Powell argue that Weber’s assumptions should be studied again because rationalization and bureaucracy causes have changed. States and corporations have achieved bureaucratization. Bureaucracy is still the common form of organization but companies are homogeneous.
Most of the organizations have similar characteristics Efficiency and competition are not the main causes of organizational changes in structure. Processes that take place in enterprises and bureaucracy make organizations efficient and similar. Similar procedures are followed by organizations. The scholars argue that organizational fields cause bureaucratization and other similar characteristics in organizations.
An organizational field is group organizations that form a recognized institution. Organizational field includes resources, products, regulatory agencies, consumers, key suppliers, and other organizations producing similar products and services. Professions and state also contribute to the process.
These have been the main organizational rationalizes in the 20th century. Organizational fields, which are well structured, provide a good environment in which the efforts of an individual to rationally deal with constraints and uncertainties lead to total homogeneity in output, culture, and structure (Handel 244).
Most modern theories explain different actions of organizations as well as behavior and structural differences among them. Hannan and Freeman wanted to provide the answer to the question why there existed many organizations. Handel (244) seeks to provide answers to homogeneity in forms and practices of organizations but not variations. Organizational fields show differences in form and approach in the initial stages.
After its establishment, fields gradually become homogeneous. Winnowing, development of hospital, and radio industries can illustrate this assumption. In the above spheres, structurization emerges. Moreover, the organizations become homogenized. The state and competition structure organizations operating on businesses, which are made similar by powerful forces.
New practices adopted and goals modified form new organizations. Innovations are aimed at improving the performance of business. Rational strategies in an organization may be irrational if adopted by other companies.
Isomorphism is used in description of homogenization process. A restricting process compels an organizational unit to adopt strategies similar to those of other units exposed to similar environmental conditions. The drive toward similarity is referred to as isomorphism. There are two main types, institutional, and competitive. Competitive isomorphism is associated with the works of Hannan and Freeman.
The three main mechanisms behind changes in institutional isomorphism include coercive isomorphism, mimetic isomorphism, and normative isomorphism. Coercive isomorphism is pressure from the competitors to which the organization in question is subjected. As an example, governmental mandates originating from financial requirements and contract law may be given (Handel 245).
Organizations within the same geographical regions tend to be homogeneous because they share similar rituals. Small organizations are highly affected by large corporations. Mimetic isomorphism is the extend to which an organization moulds itself like other organizations. Organizations tend to shape themselves like companies that have been successful or those that they think are valid to them.
People may also bring about changes and consultants who moved into the organization by initiating changes, they think, may be a benefit to the organization. Professions exert normative isomorphism pressure to an organization. For example, employees with similar educational status tend to handle problems in similar ways.
They have the tendency of importing and pushing norms that are necessary in the organization so that particular forms and routines are adopted. Conformities in organizations are strengthened by socialization. Similarities between the three processes make it possible for easy interaction between organizations. This helps in establishment of legitimacy in organizations (Handel 247).
Max Webber developed a theory of authority structures, which describes activities in the organization based on legal authority. In this case, the subjects should obey rules enacted by people in authority. He argues that authorities are established by building structures, decision-making, and task responsibilities. The author defines the power and authority that an individual possess in the organization as a rational-legal authority.
Weber points out that rational legal authority should not be based on character of an individual, social status, or wealth. Bureaucracy is developed by this power. The main difference is that Weber stresses of bureaucracy as the cause of similarity in organizations whereas DiMaggio and Powell argues that bureaucracy has undergone changes (Handel 17).
Weber’s ideal principles include division of labor in his theory. Duties are broken down into routine, well defined, and attributed to simple jobs. The leadership form is hierarchy, in which lower offices are controlled by higher offices. Technical norms or rules are applied to control the behavior of people. Special training is required if application of the rules is not rational. Selection of members is formal.
Technical qualifications are a major determining factor in selection of members. Individuals appointed to serve in official positions must have technical qualifications. Rational democracy requires administrative members to be completely separated from ownership of administrative and production means. Rules, decisions, and acts of administration are recorded down for reference. After oral discussion, decisions arrived at should be put down in a written document.
This includes proposals, preliminary and final decisions as well as rules and orders. The office is composed of continual operation and written documents by officials. Workers, employees, and officials in the organization do not own non-human production and administration means. Officials are supposed to account for them clearly. The common belief between the two authors is that they belief in similarity (Handel 18).
Weber argues that bureaucracy is the most recognized form of exercising legal authority in the system of administration. The supreme chief who attains his /her position by virtue of succession, election, or appropriation manages organizations. Other administrative staff members are appointed to serve different functions. Examples of organizations in which bureaucracy is applicable include privately owned clinics and hospitals maintained by religious institutions.
Bureaucracy is illustrated in the Catholic Church, in which priests and the doctrine of Papal infallibility dominate the church. In order for entities to realize success in performance, there must be common goals and regulations, which govern achievement of these goals. Rationality plays a major role in organizations. It is clear from both texts that DiMaggio, Powell, and Weber have some views that are similar and they differ in some perceptions of rationality in organizations (Handel 19).
Handel, Michael. The sociology of organizations: classic, contemporary, and critical readings. New York: SAGE, 2003.Print.