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Rationalization (economics)

    In economics '''rationalization''' is an attempt to change a pre-existing ad-hoc workflow into one that is based on a set of published rules A general tendency in modern times to mathematize experience knowledge and work; or the growth of means-end rationality (goal-oriented rationality) referring to a highly precise calculation of means to attain a goal and applying such calculation to the “conduct of life” itself This is usually attempted to increase efficiency or flexibility Results tend to vary with the enthusiasm of the workers for the changes being made with the skill in which management applies the rules to the work being done and with the degree to which the rules fit the job at all
    The rationalization process is the practical application of knowledge to achieve a desired end It leads to efficiency coordination and control over both the physical and the social environment It is a product of "scientific specialization and technical differentiation" that seems to be a characteristic of Western culture (Freund 1968) It is the guiding principle behind bureaucracy and the increasing division of labor It has led to the unprecedented increase in both the production and distribution of goods and services It is also associated with secularization depersonalization and oppressive routine Increasingly human behavior is guided by observation experiment and reason (zweckrational) to master the natural and social environment to achieve a desired end (Elwell 1999)Freund (1968: 18) defines it as "the organization of life through a division and coordination of activities on the basis of exact study of men's relations with each other with their tools and their envionmnet for the purpose of achieving greater efficiency and productivity" Max Weber's general theory of rationalization (of which bureaucratization is but a particular case) refers to increasing human mastery over the natural and social environment In turn these changes in social structure have changed human character through changing values philosophies and beliefs Such superstructural norms and values as individualism efficiency self-discipline materialism and calculability (all of which are subsumed under Weber's concept of zweckrational) have been encouraged by the bureaucratization process
    Elwell Frank W. 1999 Industrializing America: Understanding Contemporary Society through Classical Sociological Analysis West Port Connecticut: Praeger
    Freund Julien 1968 The Sociology of Max Weber New : Vintage Books