A General Theory of Bureaucracy

Elliott Jaques

Publisher: Heinemann, 1976, 412 pages

ISBN: 0-435-82473-2

Keywords: Management

Last modified: May 17, 2012, 3:10 p.m.

Professor Jaques' new book sets out the most significant advance in the understanding of bureaucracy since Max Weber's Theory of Social and Economic Organization. In sharp contrast to other writers, he demonstrates that, properly organized, bureaucracy is not inevitably monolithic and stultifying, but can make a prime contribution to pluralism and the open society.

A rigorous and systematic definition of bureaucracy is used to cover all employment systems — in industry and commerce, public and social administration, education, and in religous and military organization.

The theory is based upon the discovery of a universal and uniform underlying structure in the stratification of managerial or work levels in the bureaucratic hierarchy. The postulate is made, and evidence presented, that this uniform underlying stratification is an expression of discontinuity in trhe distribution of work-capacity in human populations.

The book covers a wide range of important social and economic issues: level of work in bureaucracy as the hard core of socio-economic status system; elimination of labour exploitation with the retention of productive economic competition; the phenomenology of work and of social interaction in work; nature of role relationships and social structure; interplay of social and individual personality in the funtioniong of social systems; social stratification and bureaucratic stratification; employee participation; equitable differential payment; career progress and level of aspiration.

The theories presented are of importance not only to socilogy but to social psychology, social anthropology, economics, politics, and social philosophy. They are also of practical concern to organization theory and the behavioural sciences in business and administrative studies.

  • Prolegomenon: Metamorphis of Bureacracy and the Question of Values
  • Part One: Introduction and Definitions
    1. Bureaucracy in Industrial Society
    2. Role, Social Structure, and Certain Other Social Things Defined
  • Part Two: Basic Features of Bureaucracy
    1. Bureaucracy and the Employment Contract
    2. Managerial Accountability, Authority, and Dependence
    3. Bureaucracy and Associations Contrasted
  • Part Three: An Explantion of Bureaucratic Systems
    1. Work and the Measurement of Level of Work
    2. On the Nature of the Capacity to Work
    3. The Stratified Depth-structure of Bureaucracy
    4. Levels of Abstraction and the Stratification of Mental Activity
    5. Growth of Individual Capacity and the Dynamics of Bureaucratic Systems
  • Part Four: Social Justice and Bureaucratic Employment
    1. The Right to Abundant Employment and Individual Opportunity
    2. The Right to Participate in the Control of Change
    3. Requisite Conditions for Employee Participation
    4. The Right to Equitable Differential Reward
    5. The Right to Individual Appeal
  • Part Five: Functioning of Bureaucratic Systems
    1. Operational Spine and Delegation of Tasks
    2. Horizontal Role Relationships and Degrees of Accountability and Authority
    3. Grading, Career Progress, and Level of Aspiration
    4. Elective Leadership and Managerial Leadership
  • Part Six: Models of Bureacratic Organization
    1. Growth of Buireaucratic Systems
    2. Direct Command Systems: Two- and Three-stratum Hierarchies
    3. General Command Systems: Four- and Five-stratum Hierarchies and Above
  • Part Seven: Preliminary Sketch of the Contribution of Constitutional Bureaucracy to Individual Liberty in Industrial Societies
    1. Constitutional Bureaucracy, Alienatikon, and Community
    2. Economic Competition Without Labour Exploitation
    3. Status, Class, and the Open Society


A General Theory of Bureaucracy

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Excellent ********** (10 out of 10)

Last modified: May 17, 2012, 3:10 p.m.

This is one of the most ignored and probably most influential books on management and organization during the 20th century!

Mandatory reading, as this is the gurus secret source! You certainly can't loose by reading, and it will probably change your outlook while reading it.

The only complaint is that it is written in highly academic jargon, with words you may have to use a dictionary to understand the first time, especially if you're non-British and non-university educated.


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