B2B | Small Business

The Seven Characteristics of Rational Social Organization

Author: Sophie Johnson
Publish Date: 
To rationally organize social groups to efficiently accomplish goals creates bureaucratic structures. An authority hierarchy exists to enforce written rules and procedures, labor is divided and assigned, and formal communication exists. Bureaucracies can keeping adding people into the hierarchical network, producing large-scale organizations, one of the characteristics of rational social organization. Distinctive social institutions are another feature of rational social organization, wherein different areas of human experience produce their own specialized bureaucracies. In the United States, not only do some small businesses adopt bureaucratic structures, but so do schools, government agencies and churches.

Holding on to inherited ways, traditional cultures don’t embrace technology the way rationalist societies do. Rationalist societies quickly adopt new technologies. This leads to their social organizations displaying the characteristic of technical competence. Today’s small businesses, for example, have embraced personal computers, Internet storefronts and social networking sites as marketing tools.

Adopting technology means acquiring expertise, which creates another characteristic of rational social organizations: specialized tasks. Specialized tasks in a rational social organization create efficiency. The assembly line demonstrates this, each person on the line becoming increasingly proficient and quick at a specialized job. Specialization can go too far, though, with boredom, low morale and employee turnover the result. When organizing a company, a small-business owner must take care not to make jobs too specialized.

The problem of over-specialization illustrates a pitfall of rational social organizations: impersonality. Though, to many, rational automatically implies a desirable approach, Weber used the word in the sense of calculation. In the assembly line example, workers become parts of a mechanized system — cogs in the machine, as it were — because a decision-maker calculated that the setup would best meet an organizational goal. Weber feared that rational society and social organizations could not escape dehumanization and alienation. Small businesses that organize around teams instead of a bureaucracy promote individuality, moving away from dehumanization.

Weber found that rationalism evolved from Calvanism. Calvanists believed that people didn’t control whether or not they would make it into heaven. Calvinists saw wealth as a sign of God’s favor and of being heaven-bound. This caused them to work hard, and personal discipline became a characteristic of rational social organization. This suits bureaucracies, the system flourishing if everyone excels. To meet its goals on time and efficiently, the system also requires an awareness of time, the final characteristic of a rational social organization.

Browser Compatibility: This website works well on IE8, Mozilla Firefox 3.x.x and Google Chrome 6.0.XXX
FREELY Download the latest version of browsers here: Download IE8 | Download Mozilla Firefox | Download Google Chrome