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Bureaucracy, Irrationality of Rationalization, and Re-Rationalization

As a management intern at T-Mobile, I had firsthandexperience of business bureaucracy at the organization. I had sheer determination to use my understanding of bureaucracy to advance my career and also understand my new workplace. In this regard, I worked hard to use the benefits of bureaucracy to facilitate transparency, improve processes, institutionalize company rules, and create a fair working environment in my department. Notably, Serpa and Ferreira (2019) explain formal rationality as the logical deduction and thinking that would help a firm evaluate what is critical and use efficient methods in attaining its goals depending on different situations (12)However, four aspects of T-Mobile’s bureaucracy depict formal rationality quite debatably

Formal Rationalities and Irrationalities at T-Mobile

ForemostT-Mobile has structured task specialization and division of labor. I noted that the company’s production processes are split into the assembly, marketing, software, hardware, and design lines. The company uses Weberian thinking: assigning the highest level of skills, expertise, and competencies to promote timely completion of tasks (Serpa & Ferreira, 2019, p. 12). As its formal rationalitythe company encourages maximum efficiency and discourages employees from overstepping their responsibilities. However, I noted many irrationalities from the processes. For instance, workers were redundant, overdependent, lacked craftmanship, bored, and the company experienced monotony of work. Therefore, specialization at T-Mobile could use an overhaul.

Secondly, the organization’s management is characterized by hierarchical structureLike in any bureaucracy, the company’s employees understand clearly laid out chains of command and management layers. T-Mobile’s formal rationality demands that each layer’s team is responsible for its performanceWhile upper layer management supervises lower layers, power runs from top to bottom (Peek2020; Serpa & Ferreira, 2019, p. 12)Besides, each worker knows their place in the hierarchy and the company’s decision-making is done by senior management only. However, according to Peek (2020)hierarchies delineate productivity, the delegation of duties, and undermines lines of effective communication. Accordingly, T-Mobile is prone to cases of power centralization, reducedinternal innovation, territorial managers, and lack of collaboration. 

Thirdly, the company only allows professional relationships between employees and it has an impersonal environmentT-Mobile’s rationale includes capitalizing on rational thinking and facts to enhance its decision-making processes. Nonetheless, the company tries to prevent elementsthat could interfere with its mission such as political influences, nepotism, or even favoritism. However, T-Mobiles management has noted negative implications of professionalism like increased stress among workers, high costs of training, and reduced creativity. Notably, high standards of professional conduct often conflict with creative work traits (Peek, 2020)Therefore, T-Mobile must re-rationalize its bureaucratic aspect of the impersonal environment. 

Lastly, the corporation has a set of formal selection rules. Like most bureaucracies’ formal rationalities, T-Mobile chooses its workers based on competencies like training, experience, educationBesides, the corporation also considers the technical skills of potential employees before hiring them. Employees’ contract terms determine their job position, salary, and roles(Peek, 2020)Nonetheless, T-Mobile has standard operatingprocedures that guide workers within a given hierarchy. The management has written instructions to ensure the conditions of employment and job descriptions are clear. However, the company faces many irrationalities like role complexityformalism, conservativeness, and rigidity. The company places too much concern on the rules than on substance, and the formal selection rules do not change according to people’s needs or the fast-changing times


T-Mobile’s irrationalities get in the way of reaching its set objectives. For instance, the redundancy of its staff membersterritorial managers, increased stress among junior staff, and the firm’s rigidity prevent it from attaining effectiveness and efficiency in its production processesAs noted by Rey, Pitta, Ramonas, and Sotok (2019)a firm’s irrationalities emanate from its different aspects of bureaucracies and prevent it from reaching its goals (81-86)However, T-Mobile is committed to re-rationalizing these irrationalities in various ways. According to Rey et al. (2019)bureaucratic firms can overcome theirirrationalities to achieve a greater purpose (pp. 75-78). Therefore, T-Mobile uses an array of measures to re-rationalize. 

First, the company has introduced a reward system. The firm’s management now avoids becoming mired in bureaucracy and gives bonuses and promotions to its exceptional talents. Second, the firm empowers its workers by giving them the authority to make less critical decisions. Besides, the management gives employees clear information and now looks for action-oriented employees during recruitment. Third, T-Mobile has now eliminated unnecessary paperwork. The firm now inserts and stores information and any rules automatically instead of relying on paper works and forms. Lastly, the company encourages its employees to make their priorities clear and keep their goals in mind. In this regard, specialists like coders do not do paperwork but concentrate on codding. Similarly, employees now do not concentrate on completing procedures and company processes, but they focus on productivity and the results

In summation, four aspects of T-Mobile’s bureaucracy depict formal rationality quite debatably. For example, even if T-Mobile has a structured task specialization and division of labor, it still suffers from employee redundancy, overdependency, limited craftmanship, boredom, and monotony of work. Besides, despite the company having hierarchical and layered management, it still encounters lack of collaboration in its taskforce, territorialism, power centralization, and reduced innovation. Similarly, T-Mobile’s impersonal relationship and formal set of rules have resulted in reduced creativity and rigidity. However, the firm has structured approaches in re-rationalizing the irrationalities which emanate from its formal rationalities. For instance, T-Mobile is now conducting employee reward systems and empowerment programs. Accordingly, firms must integrate the Weberian concept of formal rationality with 21st-century management practices.




Peek, S. (2020). The management theory of Max Weber. Retrieved 28 April 2021, from https://www.business.com/articles/management-theory-of-max-weber/https://www.business.com/articles/management-theory-of-max-weber/

Rey, C., Pitta, N., Ramonas, D., & Sotok, P. (2019). Agile purpose: Overcoming bureaucracy. Purpose-Driven Organizations, 75-86. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-17674-7_6

Serpa, S., & Ferreira, C. (2019). The concept of bureaucracy by Max Weber. International Journal of Social Science Studies7(2), 12. doi: 10.11114/ijsss.v7i2.3979

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