Bureaucracy (Max Weber)

Management Theories > Bureaucracy

Max Weber, born in 1864, in Prussia, is a German sociologist. He suggested that Protestainism was one of the major “elective affinities” associated with the rise of capitalism, bureaucracy and the rational-legal nation-state in his book named “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”.

“Characteristics of Bureaucracy”

Bureaucracy refers to the management of large organizations characterized by hierarchy, fixed rules, impersonal relationships, rigid adherence to procedures, and a highly specialized division of labor.

Weber suggests the characteristics of bureaucracy as following :

1. There is the principle of fixed official jurisdictional areas, which are generally ordered by rules, that is, by laws or administrative regulations.

2. The principles of office hieararchy and of levels of grade authority mean a firmly ordered system of super and subordination in which there is a supervision of the lower offices by the higher ones.

3. The management of modern offices is based upon written documents (“the files”), which are preserved in their original or draught form.

4. Office management, at least all specialized office management –  and such management is distinctly modern – usually presupposes thorough and expert training.

5. When the office is fully developed, official activity demands the full working capacity of the official, irrespective of the fact that his obligatory time in the bureau may be firmly delimited.

6- The management of the office follows general rules which are more or less stable, more or less exhaustive, and which can be learned.

“Position of the official”

Weber asserts that office holding is a “vocation“. The position of the official is in the nature of a duty. Major characteristic of Weberian Bureaucracy is devoted to impersonal and functional purposes. Entrance into an office is considered an acceptance of a specific obligation of faithful management in return for a secure existence. This means tenureship and job security.

Weber suggested that the personal position of the official is patterned in the following way:

1. Whether official is in a private office or a public bureau, the modern official always strives and usually enjoys a distinct social esteem as compared with the governed. His social position is guaranteed by the prescriptive rules of rank order and, for the political official, by special definitions of the criminal code against “insults of the officials” and “contempt” of state and church authorities.

2. The pure type of bureaucratic official is appointed by a superior authority. An official elected by the governed is not a purely bureaucratic figure. In principle, an official who is so elected has an autonomous position opposite the superordinate official. The elected official does not derive his position “from above” but “from below”. The official who is not elected but appointed by a chief normally functions more exactly, from a technical point of view, because, all other circumstances being equal, it is more likely that purely functional points of consideration and qualities will determine his selection and career.

3. Normally, the position of the official is held for life, at least in public bureaucracies; As a factual rule, tenure for life is presupposed, even where the giving of notice or periodic reappointment occurs.

4. The official receives the regular pecuniary compensation of a normally fixed salary and the old age security provided by a pension. The salary is not measured like a wage in terms of work done, but according to “status”, that is, according to the kind of function (the “rank“) and, in addition, possibly, according to the length of service.

5. The official is set for a “career” within the hierarchical order of the public service. He moves from the lower, less important, and lower paid to the higher positions.

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7 Responses to Bureaucracy (Max Weber)

  1. Chin says:

    can i know the date of u published this articles?



  3. beurachartic management by max weber has sufficiently help 2 curyout my reaseach thnk weber

  4. The points of Weber are really helpful in carrying out a reseach on Bureaucracy thanks Weber

  5. saidi kichukwi. says:

    thanks weber.

  6. tinokamanga says:

    sir you are great thanks

  7. naomy says:

    you just helped me earn my masters degree thank u xoooo much

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