The sources of legitimate authority
At the end of this module you will be able to critically appreciate and evaluate the sources for the legitimation of your organization’s leadership authority and relate or contrast it to the various models of leadership to be found in the literature, namely; Rational Bureaucratic Leader; Traditional Leader: Charismatic Leader.
The concept of collective responsibility of the board (and in the UK context at least in politics the idea of cabinet collective responsibility) is well known. The idea of collective leadership in a non-hierarchical workplace context is one that generally will not be found in the mainstream management literature except in the context of teams. But this idea is often quite a significant model in worker owned co-operatives or small lifestyle co-operatives where collective decision making and consensus building becomes are often central to the purpose of the organisation rather than just a means to an ends.
Whilst acknowledging the wider importance of consensus building for leadership in large organisations and the equally important principle of delegation of authority in decision-making processes this programme will not discuss further the idea of direct worker control of policy. This is not because there is anything inherently wrong with the principle but simply because in the context of larger scale co-operatives and all credit unions such a model is either impractical or inappropriate. That it may work well in the context of small worker owned collectives is not at issue. This will largely depend of the culture and personalities of the members concerned. To study this requires a particular qualitative and micro perspective. We should right at the outset of our discussion on leadership recognise that we cannot avoid the impact of personality, culture and values on leadership practise. Indeed Charismatic Leadership is really a personality based model just as Traditional Leadership is a culture based model. Bureaucracy is a word with some very negative connotations in English but we shall see that the Rational Bureaucratic Model of Max Weber contains a number of principles that are at the very heart of the best people management practise within co-operative and credit union organizations.
Max Weber is almost certainly the single most important and influential writer on organisation and the sources of authority (Leadership) across this entire and very extensive literature. The two selected readings give a snapshot of his most influential ideas – Bureaucracy and Legitimation – plus one of his principle methods of analysis – the construction of ideal types. It could be argued that this legitimation according to hierarchy and rules has proved inadequate (see the rational ground for the legitimation of authority (Max Weber page 46). The existence of culture management and the emphasis on leadership skills and group dynamics, communications, and governance and agency theory all suggest there are strong forces undermining Weber’s ‘ideal’ typologies.
Doc 1. Slattery, M (1991) Chapter 48 ‘Max Weber and Bureaucracy’ in Key Ideas in Sociology, Macmillan, pp303 – 309
Doc 2. Weber, Max (1968) Chapter 5 ‘The Pure Types of Legitimate Authority’ in Max Weber on Charisma and Institution Building, Edited with and Introduction by S.N. Eisenstadt, The Heritage of Sociology Series, Chicago University Press, pp46-65.
Part 1 (300 words)
a) Identify and define the six key features of the ideal bureaucracy as outlined in the Slattery reading and summarize them in one hundred words.
b) Identify some of the forces that may challenge or undermine the rational bureaucratic model of legitimation.
c) On page 64 Weber asserts that elected officials cannot attain a high level of technical efficiency and cites the experience of the United States as evidence of this. Discuss this assertion and summarise your discussion in one hundred words.
Part 2 (200 words)
Write up to two hundred words suggesting where we might find examples of alternative Traditional and Charismatic sources of legitimate authority (leadership) as defined by Max Weber and contrast them with the rational bureaucratic model.
No title page or citations required
Single or double spaced – either is fine
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