In modern society, large corporations and educational systems

In
modern society, large corporations and educational systems are all controlled
by a system that consists of organized hierarchies, also known as bureaucracy.
Bureaucracy is defined as “a formal organization characterized by a hierarchy
of authority, a clear division of labor, explicit rules, and impersonality” (Bureaucracy
Definition).  Bureaucracy is for the most
part seen in corporate divisions consisting of employees who are controlled by
the Executor, a Supervisor, or a Manager. Max Weber and Karl Marx both had
perspectives regarding bureaucracy and how it affected the individual that
worked in a corporation that followed these ideologies. Weber was concerned
with the “operation of modern large-scale enterprises in the political,
administrative, and economic realm” (Max Weber). On the other hand, Marx
asserts that it is “the state of formation of the civil society” (Karl Marx’s
Views). The film Office Space
provides a perfect example of controlled employees that are not allowed to
excel in their profession, as they are not given the opportunity to show the
potential they have to offer the company.

            Bureaucracy is a function that has
lived through many years in large corporations that require different ideas to
come together to run the business. In short, many of these companies have
higher management that oversees the work of others and assures that everything
is well handled in the workplace. An example bureaucracy in the workplace is
that prior to submitting work whom can be the President of the company, the
Vice President would have to review it to reaffirm the employee followed the
guidelines of the company. We then ask, why does this occur now in the modern
world? Bureaucracy has been a major asset for companies to expand and complete
projects as a team. Though, many may do not agree with these set of rules
brought into the workplace it becomes harder for them to climb the ladder that
will allow them to get to the top. Peter Gibbons, the main character in Office Space, illustrated a character
that was tired of doing the same thing everyday. Gibbons was told what to do by
eight other employees, who happen to have a higher position than him. When Gibbons
made mistakes, eight employees would tell him the work he was doing was done
incorrectly. This clearly provides us the idea of how bureaucracy is portrayed
in the workplace; rather than just being told by his supervisor who oversees
his work, he is told by everyone. An interesting point that was illustrated in
the film was the fact that upper management lacked communication about their
employees in the company and where they stand within the business.

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            Karl Marx’s idea on bureaucracy
asserts that wealth is rarely created within itself, rather it “coordinates…
governs the productions, distribution, and consumption of wealth” (New World).
Marx believed that within bureaucracy, there was an extreme amount of human
labor that was applied to during the time people were at work. Wealth was not
seen for these individuals; rather, the corporation only had the idea of what
their daily earnings were. Referencing back to Office Space, we witnessed how the consultants knew the main reason
why they were paying their visit to Initech. The individuals who play a part in
upper management know exactly what is going on while the employees who do most
of the work are left without a clue of what may occur in their workplace.
Lumbergh’s consistency on having Gibbson do more work over the weekends
provides viewers of how bureaucracy plays a compelling role in larger
companies.

            As stated before, both Weber and
Marx had views regarding bureaucracy and how most corporations implement a set
of guidelines that employees must follow. When comparing Weber and Marx’s views
on bureaucracy, Weber’s views clearly define what occurs in Office Space. If Weber were here to be a
critic in the environment that Peter Gibbons and Milton Waddams are working in,
he would state that they are not given the opportunity to speak up and provide
their insight on the work they are doing. Throughout the film, Gibbons would do
his best to avoid speaking to his boss, Bill Lumbergh. Gibbons knew that he
would ask him to do overtime work without asking him if he can come in on the
weekend or not. Though Gibbons was not scheduled for the weekend, he was told
to do so because Lumbergh, who has the higher authority within the company, told
him to. This is an example of bureaucracy, as Lumbergh would demand Gibbons to
come in to take care of more work; however, Lumbergh was not going to assist
with anything. Refercning back to our lecture, beaurcracy has “fixed
jurisdictiational and official duties and there is a hierarchy of authority”
(Abdel, H.) As stated before, Lumbergh has the higher authority; therefore, he
bosses the employees around to in order to get work done.

            In addition to Weber’s views on
bureaucracy, he also stated that within these corporations, employees are stuck
in what is known as an “iron cage.” An “iron cage” is defined as a “situation
in which an individual is trapped by social institutions” (Iron-Cage
Definition). To expand, Weber explained that people who currently have a job
are often stuck in a certain position and cannot excel beyond than where they
are positioned now. Examples of characters from Office Space are Milton Waddams, Samir Nagheenanajar, and Michael
Bolton; these individuals work for Initech. These men play the same role as computer
programmers and complete their obligations before the end of day. Although work
is completed by the deadline, they are not well known for their work. Milton
Waddams, who has been in the company for many years, is always moved from one
floor to another in the building. Towards the end of the film, Milton Waddams
was in the basement of the company. He always feared that Lumbergh was going to
move him, and would stutter when he talked to him. These characters would do
the most to complete their work but upper management did not recognize it.

            Moreover, in larger corporations and
businesses, there is a lack of communication between upper management and the
employees themselves. Within Office Space,
we noticed that when the consultants came in to downsize the company, the two
consultants that were playing the role did not relay the information over to
Bill Lumbergh, who is the Vice President of Initech. The consultants promoted
Gibbson, who decided to not show up to work for a few days, without discussing
with Lumbergh about the promotion. With that being said, we can safely conclude
bureaucracy was playing an important role as the consultants had higher
authority than Lumbergh and in reality his opinion was not taken into
consideration. With Weber’s idea of bureaucracy, he states that “rules are
implemented by neutral officials” and in this case, the consultants carry this
function. The consultants held more power over Lumbergh allowing them to make
decisions for the company.

            As previously stated, the “iron
cage” is an invisible barrier between the employee and the opportunities that
are available within a business. As the employee, you excel in as many areas to
demonstrate the skills that you have acquired over the years. Although you try
to put yourself out there with providing new ideas, the employer tends to not
recognize them. When the employee is stuck in these situations, there are
consequences that follow. The “iron cage” prevents the employee from moving
forward in their career and obtaining a better position. In society, we step
out into the world to display our best work ethic and professionalism to climb
the ladder of success; yet, the “iron cage” prevents us from allowing the
employee to be acknowledged for their accomplishments.

            Bureaucracy will continue to play a
significant role in the large corporations and businesses within our society.
Max Weber and Karl Marx studied the roles that hierarchies control within
businesses and how they affect the functions of others within the company. Over
the years, there has not been much change as we continue to see them in
educational systems like universities, colleges, and the K-12 system as well as
businesses around the globe. The “iron cage” is an idea that should be
eliminated in order to allow others to succeed within their workplace. Weber,
who presented this idea, was correct in all of the aspects of how we see it in
our daily life. The potential that an individual brings to their employer
should be credited, as the employer may never know if they may bring in new
ideas that can help the business in a positive matter.