Sociology Bureaucracy Essay


Sociology Bureaucracy Essay

This paper uses the metaphor of the organization as a bureaucracy/politics, culture and organism in order to further our understanding of the largest guerrilla group in Colombia, the FARC EP. Although these metaphors were developed in order to understand and increase the productivity of “legitimate” organizations I want to show the universality of these theories by looking at an organization that has criminal tendencies. In showing their applicability I also want to show the flaws of the theories in the pertinence to this context and perhaps explore how these theories can further in understanding crime and criminogenic organizations. This is important because a significant amount of theories in sociology understand crime in terms of the individual. That is individual context, rationality and needs.

I chose the FARC in order to accomplish these goals because of the paradoxes that are present within their organizational structure and the complexity of the structure. Meaning that a number of theories are applicable however their flaws and expansion can be better understood because of this diversity.

The Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo or also known as the FARC EP was established in May 27th 1964 by Manuel Marulanda Vélez (Pedro Antonio Marín), also known as "Tirofijo" (Brittain 2005, pg.3). This group has been described as the “military wing” of the Colombian Communist Party (PCC), even though the PCC has not officially claimed them as such (Radu & Tismaneanu, 1990, pg.153). The FARC EP has since officially broken from that party and created a political structure it calls the “Clandestine Colombian Communist Party”. It has approximately 20,000 to 30,000 members, since last official record in 2005 (Brittain 2005, pg.4), with 30% of them being children under the age of 18 and 40 percent being women (Pablo &Yves 1999). The FARC EP is said to be present in every rural region in Colombia (Brittain 2005, pg.4). And, every member of the FARC EP lives within exclusive communities in the mountainous and jungle areas of Colombia (Brittain 2005, pg.4).

Colombia's political system is made up of an oligarchy, the Liberals and the Conservative(Pablo & Yves 1999, Brittain 2005, Brescia…). After the 1948 assassination of the then Liberal president Jorge Eliecer Gaitan riots in Bogotá (the capital of Colombia) and smaller scale uprisings throughout the country began the Conservatives and elites within Colombia started the slaughter of 200,000 rural peasants who were associated, said to be associated, or believed to be a part of the Liberal party, this became known as “La Violencia” (The Violence) (Pablo & Yves 1999). This period created a new generation, socialized in a context where violence had become the norm (Pablo & Yves 1999). In 1953 the Conservative government wins the election and is put into power. In an attempt to re-establish order Laureano Gómez (the elected president) once again attempts to seize control of the country side. At that time a lot of peasant families were driven out of their homes and into the rural areas in order to escape from the slaughter of their communities where the Conservative government thought the Liberals and Communists were originating (Pablo & Yves 1999). This resulted in secluded people who would create resistance to the violence among where many members of the FARC EP (Pablo & Yves 1999).

Following the Geneva Convention Protocol 1 and 2, which states that “oppositional armed movements vying for state power must formally arrange themselves into a visible ranked military construct” the FARC became organized in away that represented an “Ejercito del Pueblo” (a people's army) which meant that they would have a visible chain of command (Brittain 2005, pg.3). It is governed by a secretariat led by Velez and seven others. The FARC EP has proclaimed itself a political Marxist organization (Pablo & Yves 1999). The organization claims to protect the rural poor from the wealthy and the US (Pablo & Yves 1999). It does this through violence force. Its funding comes from extortion, kidnapping and their participation in the illegal drug trade (Brittain 2005, Pable & Yves 1999, Radu & Vladimir 1990, Brescia…).

Literature Review

Bureaucracy according to Weber has an “ideal type” which he considers to be more rational efficient then other forms of organization (Handel 2003, pg.18). This form of organization is based on a “legitimate” form of domination which he labels “legal authority” (Handel 2003, pg. 18). According to Weber this “legal authority” is defined by the employment of bureaucratic staff which consists of the purest type of individual officials who have received their position within the organization based on “monocracy” (Handel 2003, pg.19). According to Weber, bureaucracy is predicated on ideas of mechanistic forms of relations rather then personal ones, concentration of rules to the administration, and an authority system this is indestructible and omnipotent in their ability to make decision (Handel, 2003).

As a result, of Weber's concentration on bureaucracy and its applicability to factory and legal forms of employment his conception of leadership within an organization becomes limited to managers and therefore wide spread allocation of power. That is why I have decided to look at the political metaphor and the theory of autocracy as it allows us to look at one source of power, and ultimately fills this gap. Autocracy defined as defined as being similar to military dictatorship in that these often take the form of “collective presidencies” (Calhoun, 1980).

However, this form of political organization does not take into account the context under which such an organization arouse. This is particularly important because the organization of the guerilla movements as a military force did not happen in isolation or through rational choice, but rather through political and contextual initiatives. This is why we look at the organization as an “open system” as well as the “contextual environment,” meaning, that the organization is shaped by powerful forces present within the environment (Handel 2003, pg 225 and Morgan 1989, pg.72) and also affects the environment through a reciprocal relationship, known as casual textures (Morgan 1989, pg.74). In looking at the environment of the organization as an open system we explore the theories of contingency which looks at the organization's ability to achieve a “good fit” between internal environment and the external environment (Morgan 1989, pg. 76). However, this theory has been criticized as being too deterministic in that the organization determined the environment in which it was present. That is why we look at resource dependency theory and bridging strategies and the ways in which the environment and power relationship within those environments impact the organization.

Although the environment has a great affect on the organization of the FARC EP politics, especially Marxist's politics which has arisen out of a particular cultural milieu and has created and internal culture of its own that needs to be explored. The theories that are present within this metaphor are Shien's cultural artifacts, stories and heroes, the culture as a result of member socialization, and the organization as a culture of coercion and control (Handel 2003, Morgan 1989). Schein's theory is important and contributes a lot in understanding the organization as a culture because it does not focus on necessarily the intentions of the organization but rather provides and viewer's perspective of the organization. He does this by looking at artifacts which are physical manifestations of the culture such as slogans, mission statements, clothing etc., stories which are tales that circulate which scripts that help employees learn about acceptable behavior or attitudes or what they can except the organization to do in the future as well as what the organization values are, and heroes which are stories about a particular person which build up people and events showing once again what is valued within the organization (Morgan 1989, pg.150-180, Schein 2004) and legitimates their position within the organization. In looking that the perceptions of others we are also better able to understand the impact that the FARC EP has had through a casual textures. We also look at the ways in which culture helps to control the people within the organization and how the training and selection process of entering the organization provide for a socialization process that will admit people with the same values as the organization (Handel 2003, pg.348) and if not convert them so that they will do what the “legitimate” source of authority says. These theories have been chosen because in many ways they re-affirm and fill gaps for one another which are important in getting a fuller picture of the organization.

Organization as a Bureaucracy

Although Weber conceptualizes ideal and efficient bureaucracy as reliant on a particular form of authority I would argue that the success of the FARC EP and their inability to fit into this category of “legal authority" contradicts his conclusion. I have operationalized the measurement of success for the FARC EP 1) in their survival as an organization despite the lack of communist presence. 2) The growth of their membership and their geographical growth. The reason that I would argue that this is success is because their mission statement to resist capitalism and neo-liberal ideologies through mobilizing the proletariat is being satisfied. By looking at Appendix A, we can see that their membership has grown from 48 to 50,000 people, despite the collapse of the Soviet Union and the abolishment of other guerrilla movements with South America. By looking at Appendix B we can see that they have also mobilized and become present in 100% of the rural community, which is where 68% of Colombian's live and where the people with the diarist conditions are located (Pablo & Yves, 1999) meaning that it is a collective mobilization of the poor.

The reason that Velez the leader of the FARC EP does not fit the Weber's conception of “legal authority” is because Velez lives on the margin in terms of being a charismatic and legal authority. That is he cannot be clearly defined as “legal authority” as his authority is not legitimated through “the legality” of rules (Handel 2003, pg.17). This is because of the illegality of his activities. His actions however do meet the second stipulation of this form of authority in that he fits the criteria of “rational authority” this is as a result of his ability to accomplish initiatives through rational means. He has been fighting for the Communist Party for 30 years and has dedicated his life to mobilizing the poor in their own emancipation (Pablo & Yves, 1999) this is rational if you work under the same paradigm or “culture” of the FARC EP or Communist Party. That is his position as an authority figure is rational and confines to the rules of allocating resources for the opposition of capitalism and its ideologies (Pablo & Yves, 1999) therefore fulfilling the rules and criteria of a communist leader. However, this also shows how he is a charismatic leader because his ability to meet the criteria of the Communist party as a leader relies more on his, “exemplary character” as a person (Handel, 2003, pg.17) rather then meeting “objective” rules.

What is paradoxical about this is, that despite the lack of objectivity within the definition of Velez as an authority figure his ideas about the way the FARC EP should function are bureaucratic. Bureaucracy seeps into this organization because of Velez's idea that the principles of hierarchy, rules as being technical and normal in nature and are standardized during orientation, managers are separated from ownership, and everything is documented in writing (Handel 2003, pg.18) will bring more predictability within a turbulent environment.

FARC EP is hierarchical in nature in that it is controlled by one individual Velez. In other words he is an autocracy as we have determined Velez is a charismatic leader and has the ultimate authority (Calhoun, 1980). The way that the organization is structured is that it has a basic squad which is made up of 12 combatants or the soldiers (Pablo & Yves 1999). Followed by the guerrilla which consists of two squads, followed by a company which consists of two guerrillas, the column which is made up of two or more companies, than a front which consists of more than one column, the block of fronts which consists of five or more fronts and the finally the central high command which is made up of seven leader (Pablo & Yves 1999). This means that there are clear definitions of authority signifying predictability in the person's role within the organization.

The rules and norms which are present in the bureaucratic structure is discussed in the culture section. Although what is not present within the FARC EP is a managers separated from ownership this would be a contradiction of culture and would de-legitimate the goals that the FARC EP are pursuing therefore, the commander and chief of the organization are constantly present and involved within the organization (Brittain 2005, pg. 8). Having said that there is also no separation between private and public life as the people who are members of the FARC EP must live in the combines of the organization (Brittain 2005, pg.3).

Organization as an Organism

In order to understand the FAR EP as an organism we must first look at the way in which the concept of “environment” has been defined. According to Morgan the “environment” as an idea relies on the notion that there must be a limit between a system of relationships, which means that certain components are separate from the rest of the system (Morgan 1989, pg.72). The FARC EP “environment” can be allocated on two different distinctions. The first being the physical “environment” in which they are located. That is the jungles of Colombia (Radu & Tismaneanu, 1990, pg.153). This is important in the ways that they are organized because of the fact that they want to make themselves invisible and retreat into these mountainous areas in order to protect themselves (Radu & Tismaneanu, 1990, pg.150). It also brings light into the fact that the FARC EP are organized around ideas of sustainability through agriculture and farming this is important in understanding who they recruit into the organization and the skills that they must have in order to survive which will be discussed a little bit later (Pablo & Yves, 1999). The second part of their environment, which is what will be discussed in this section, is the cultural and political environment that the FARC EP has arisen from. We can say that although the FARC EP has defined themselves in opposition to this environment it is separate from them in that they have distinct ideologies.

Now that a definition of the environment is present we can look at the environment its relationship the FARC EP through an analysis using the lens of contingency theory. The FARC EP is an analyzer because they take the best of defender and prospector by combining the strength of both of them. They remain open to new opportunities. Always scanning the environment for new opportunities but only embarks on them when their viability has been established (Morgan 1989, pg.78). The reason that I say that the FARC EP is an analyzer is because it is a defender by creating barriers that discourage competition through violent tactics. That is their main contenders were two other guerrilla organizations that are present within Colombia the ELN and M-19. They reduced the ELN to 350 members across four fronts when they originally had several hundred members by attacking their villages and taking over their financial contributions (Radu & Tismaneanu, 1990, pg.156). They have also eliminated the M-19 despite their location within in urban centers accusing them of “splitting the masses of other revolutionary movements” (Radu & Tismaneanu, 1990, pg.153). The too have reduced their membership to 800 members and took over their territory of Caqueta (Radu & Tismaneanu, 1990, pg.168). The FARC EP use tactics of coercion to eliminate the other guerrilla movements they have often times coerced the M-19 and ELN tax payers to convert to their “security” system and because many of the members rely on this form of financial support then the opposition looses large amounts of sponsorship (Brittain, 2005).

Velez is an analyzer in the he only sees opportunities after much deliberation. This too can be attributed to the survival of the organization. During peace talks with one of the Presidents of Colombia right after the guerilla movement was established many guerrillas' took the immunity that the president had provided and saw restitution (Pablo & Yves, 1999). However, because of Velez analytical abilities he hesitated to go forth with the incentive, later on the government would come to reveal that it had assassinated many of the guerrilla leaders that had surrendered (Pablo & Yves, 1999). As a result of his ability to analyze he would not only save his life but out wit his competition and survive a large sector of the competition.

Most importantly contingency theory has allowed us to understand how the FARC EP has been able to survive under such a turbulent environment despite their bureaucratic ways. That is the despite all the civil strife and constant US intervention in Colombia the FARC EP have survived by exploiting resources, both “legal” and “illegal” ones. They have been able to adapt to these changes by altering their organizational structure when the Narco-trafficing emerged during the late 1960's (Pablo & Yves, 1999). Instead of joining forces with the Cartel the FARC EP decided to maintain its grassroots and help the peasant. They would protect the coca grows from the invasion of the Cartel and “the cartel's military” or the paramilitary into their land through taxation (Brittain 2005, pg. 10). This would allow them to sustain their forces as they live within specific, secluded camps and remain competitive within the industry.

Organization as a Culture

In order to understand the culture of the FARC EP we will uses Schein's theory of culture. I begin by exploring the artifacts that are present within the FARC EP. The artifact that I wish to explore is the uniform which is the only physical symbol of the FARC EP. The uniform of the FARC EP is the military camouflage it is worn by every member on the base. This is used as a tactic by the organization on several levels. It allows them to be inconspicuous as they are not visible within the Andes. This has been described in organizational deviance as “structural secrecy”, in other words it is a tactic used by the organization to prevent people that do not exist within the organization from overturning the situation and the way that the FARC EP have defined it (Handel 2003, pg.450). In other words it allows them to take risks and behave as they wish without any criticism or attacks from the outside allowing the people within society to perhaps see their cause as legitimate despite its “illegitimacy”. More importantly, the uniform allows there to be a certain level of secrecy that is built into the structure of the organization so that actions are not observable to others even within the organization as division of labor allows for subunits to be established, hierarchy, geographical dispersion and isolation allow for the knowledge of tasks and goals to be secretive (Handel 2003, pg.450). This allows the FARC EP to not stay inconspicuous to it enemies but it has also prevented the attacks of innocent bystanders such as the peasants which they have been associated with as they retreat to the Andes and become invisible (Pablo & Yves, 1999). The military gear becomes a method to sustain their status and keep isolated their criminogenic tactics from onlookers.

However, that secrecy is extremely important because of the recruitment of individuals into their organization. Although most of the individuals enter through “choice” or through a lack of accessibility to legal work most of the members share the same cultural, racial and class background (Brittain 2005, pg. 7). However, some come into the organization through kidnappings and are forced and socialized into the movement (Brattain 2005, Radu & Tismaneanu 1990). Because of this they may not at the beginning or ever share the same values as the organization therefore it is necessary to keep content in isolation to those that can be trusted to avoid treason.

Another form of socialization and legitimation by the FARC EP is the story of Manuel Marulanda Vélez the leader and the person he named himself after. By looking at the story we are able to understand who the FARC define as their hero. Originally the FARC EP leader was born into the name of Pedro Antonio Marín and would acquire the name of Manual Marulanda Velez a union leader who was assassinated as a result of his protest over sending Colombian people to fight the Korean War (Radu & Tismaneanu 1990, pg.151). This shows how the culture of the FARC EP is built on sacrifice of life for convictions that matter. This was exemplified within the documentary 50 Years of Warfare where a young recruit is asked, “When will you leave” and he says “until I die” (Pablo & Yves, 1999). This shows how this culture rewards people who sacrifice their life over political convictions and glorify the deaths of many to achieve peace in a country torn by civil war. The hero is not only Velez but also all the communists who have died in pursuit of something “better”. However in many ways Velez is another icon within the story as they both symbolize a transformational leadership for where they create something new out of something old: out of an old vision, they , must develop and communicate a new vision and get others not only to see the vision bit also to commit themselves to it (Morgan 1989, 163).

However, that commitment process does not happen through story but through training. Training is an initiation process where once you are initiated death is the only way out (Brattian 2005, 11). This threat of death becomes their method of control. They are trained within military camps that train the recruits to use fire arms and identify weapons (Pablo & Yves, 1999). People who are uneducated are educated by the military through formal class rooms.

The reason for choosing these theories is the Organization as a Human system was unapplicable as they do not try to fulfill human needs within the organization. This paper explores how the FARC EP as a cultural, bureaucratic/political and organisms has combated this ideology created by the west and Colombian elite that the FARC EP are amoral calculators just trying to kill innocent lives for money and repression.