Bureaucracy is a system of management that is based on a vertical hierarchy, and designed to perform the tasks more effectively. This term can also be used to mean inefficient, overly formalized system of governance.

There are six main characteristics of bureaucracy that can be applied to Initech, the company depicted in the movie Office Space. They include specialization and division of labor, vertical hierarchy, impersonality of relationship and alienation from people, the stability of the organization and its management bodies, clear rules that should be followed by all the company workers, formalization and standardization providing stability and coherence of the work.

Each employee has certain responsibilities and the scope of activities that cannot duplicate the scope of the powers of other members of the organization. Bureaucratic structure of the organization can be compared to a pyramid: the majority is in its base, and minority on the top of it.

The activity of each member of the organization is regulated by the rules, the purpose of which is rationalization of the management process. In an ideal bureaucratic structure personal sympathy, feelings and preferences do not play a role.

This principle is the same for relationships within the organization and in its relations with external partners for the organization. The major recruitment rules are based on meeting certain objective criteria, regardless of personal contacts and attachments. The process of impersonalization of work that develops in the company depicted in the movie can be characterized by the category of alienation.

The concept of alienation, according to Weber, is the separation of the individual worker from the means of production that results in the rationalization of the economic sphere. For effective management division of labor and the labor of the operator control are required.

It becomes clear that Marx's and Weber's theories of alienation describe the same phenomenon, but from different perspectives. According to Weber, the alienation in production is a particular manifestation of rationalization in the economic sphere, which can be used in other areas. According to Marx, the alienation of people from each other and from themselves, as well as in various spheres of life, is a consequence of exclusion from the labor process and of the result or product of the labor.

The examples of the alienation can be clearly observed in the movie Office Space. The manager did not care for the psychological state of the company's workers. All of them were depressed and not satisfied with their life because of their work.  The most evident example of alienation is Milton who cannot defend his personal environment and dignity. The manager and the recruitment specialists decide to not to pay him thinking that in such a way he would understand that he was fired. Peter Gibbons becomes promoted after he told the HR inspectors that he prefers doing nothing while sitting at his desk at work. Tom Smykowski becomes happy when he accidentally gets into a terrible car accident and becomes injured all over just one day before his dismissal so that he gets compensation from the company. The personality of manager and the attitude of the company workers to him during his birthday is vivid as they sing  Happy Birthday> without a single smile on their faces. These facts and many other examples show the effects of alienation at the company. 


Related essays