1. - a,.-
JATEA BLAB1 K4Zf S,M.RIJL15LL4hdUNIVERSITY
Max Weber and Bureaucracy
Public Administration & Governance Studies
Dept. public admiuistration & governance studies
Jatiya Kabi Kazi N m l Islam University
Come-IntrdWion to Public A ~ ~ a a
Autobiographyof Max Weber
Books of Max Weber
Authority, Organization, and Legitimacy
Weberian Model of Bureaucracy
Do you agree Bangladesh Governmentfollow the
Problems of Weberian Model of Bureaucracy
5. Max Weber and Bureaucracy b-
In the study of administrative science, the subject of bureaucracy occupies a
significant palace, for this concept aims at explainingthe power-controltandem in
organized situations. Max Weber name became synonymous with bureaucracy
for he enjoys a unique place in the galaxy of social scientist who have attempted
to explainthe concept of bureaucracy.
6. Max Weber and Bureaucracy -Introduction
Weber's interest in the nature of power and authority, as well as his pervasive
preoccupation with moderntrends of rationalization. Led himto concern himself
with the operation of modern large - scale enterprises in the political,
administrative and economic realm. Bureaucratic coordination of activities, he
argued, as the distinctive mark of the modern era. Bureaucracies are organized
according to rational principles. Offices are ranked in a hierarchical order and
their operations are characterized by'impersonal rules. Incumbentsare governed
by methodical allocation of areas of Jurisdiction and delimited spheres of duty.
Appointments are made according to specialized Qualifications rather than
ascriptive Criteria. Weber argued that the Bureaucratization of the modern has
led to its depersonalization. Max Weber was continually beset by psychic
torment. It is impossible to understand his work without reference to the inner
conflicts that attended his intellectual production. But it would be inadvisable to
focus here on all the details of Weber's psychic turmoil. The commentator should
discriminate; otherwise he well succumb to what Hegel once called "psychology
of the valet," the detailed analysis of small human particularities that do not
touch upon aman's historical and intellectualsignificance. Weber's innertensions
stemmed largely from the tangled web of his relations with tangled web of his
relations with his family as well as from his attempts to escape from the
stultifying political atmosphere of the kaiser's Germany in which he lived and
worked. His ambivalencetoward authority in his personal life and his fascination
with rationalityand with the ethic of responsibility his attractionto inner worldly
asceticism and his partial identificationwith the heroic life-styles of charismatic
teachers-these and many other themes in his work have their source in his
7. Autobiography of M a x Weber:
'Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber (21 April 1864 - 14June 1920)was a
German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist whose ideas profoundly
influenced social theory and social research. Weber is oRen cited, with Emile
Durkheim and Karl Marx, as amongthe three founders of sociology.
Karl Emil Maximilian Weber was born in 1864, in E m , Province of
Saxony, Prussia (Western Germany). He was the oldest of the seven children of
Max Weber Sr. and his mother Helene, weber Sr!s involvement in public life
immersed his home in both politics and academia, as his salon welcomed many
prominent scholarsand public figures.
In 1882 Weber enrolled in the University of Heidelberg as a law student.
ARer a year of military service, he transferred to the University of Berlin.
Simultaneously with his studies, he worked as a junior lawyer. Weber continued
his study of law and history. He earned his law doctorate in 1889 by writing a
dissertation on "A Contribution to the History of Medieval Business
Organization". Having thus become a Privatdozent, Weberjoined the University of
Berlin's faculty, lecturing and consulting for the government as an instructor and
completed his second work called "Roman Agrarian History and its significance
for Public and Private Law". He wrote a number of papers on law, focusing the
attention on social political and economic factors prevalent at that time. He
involved himself in politics,joining the left-leaning Evangelical Social Congress
In 1893 he married his distant cousin Marianne Schnitger, who was
instrumental in collecting and publishing Weber's journal articles as books after
In 1894, he became a Professor of Economics at Fidelburg University.
In1896 he accepted a position at the University of Heidelberg. In 1899he left his
teachingcareer. Weber and his wife travelled to Italy at the end of the year and did
not return to Heidelberg until April 1902.After contracting the Spanishflu, he died
ofpneumonia in 1920,aged 56. Most of his Bookswere published after his Death.
8. MaxWeber and Bureaucracy m
Boob of Max.Weber:
(1896) 1950The Social Causes of Decay ofAncient Civilization
(1904-1905) 1930The Protestant Ethic and the Spiritof Capitalism
(1906) 1946 The Protestant Sects and the Spirit of Capitalism. Pages 302-
322 in Max Weber, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology.
(1915) 1951The Religion of China: Confucianism and Taoism. Glencoe
(1916-1917) 1958 The Religion of India: The Sociology of Hinduism and
(1919-1920) 1950 General'EconomicHistory.
(1921a) 1958The City.
(1921b) 1958 The Rational and Social Foundations of Music. Carbondale:
(1922a) 1956 Wirtschaft und Gesellschafk Grundriss der verstehenden
(1922b) 1957The Theory of Socialand EconomicOrganization.
(1922c) 1954Max Weber on Law in Economy and Society.
(19224) 1963The Sociology of Religion. Boston: Beacon.
(1922e) 1961The ThreeTypesof LegitimateRule
9. MaxWeber and Bureaucracy -Authority, Organization, and Legitimacy:
Among Webefs works on administration, his theories on domination,
leadership and legitimacy merit special mention. He propoundedthese theories
with a broad perspective, keeping in view religion and society and the way they
would the patterns of leadership. Weber differentiated authority, power and
control. For weber 'authority' was identical with the authoritarian power of
commandweber identifiedfive essentialcomponentsof authority:
An individualor a body of individualswho rule.
An individualor abody of individualswho are ruled.
The will of the rules to influence the conduct of the ruled and an
expressionof that will or command.
Evidenceof the influenceof the rulersinterms of objectivedegree of
Director indirectevidenceof that influenceinterms of the subjective
acceptancewith whichthe ruledobeythe command.
Hecategorizedthe persons in organizationsas under:
1. Those who are accustomedto obeycommand
2. Those who are personally interested in seeing the existing
dominationcontinue becausethey derive benefits.
3. Those who participate in that domination in the sense that the
exercise of functionsif dividedamongthem; and
4. Those who hold themselves in readiness for the exercise of these
There are some factors in Weber's life which need to be considered before
attempting to analyses his writings. First, Weber's urge for analysis and
systematized study, began at the age of thirteen. Second, Weber always preferred
knowledge obtained through practical experience than library research. Third,
Weber was progressive in outlook and yet conservative at heart. Fourth, Weber's
writing reflects the social conditionofGermany ofhistime. Weber sawthe decline
of that society. Unification of Germany under Bismark and elimination of liberal
10. Max Weber and Bureaucracy
middle-class movement convinced Weber that the great goal could only be
Manifestationsof legal authority are found in organizationswhere rulesare
applied judicially and in accordance with ascertainable principles valid for all
members in the organization. The members who exercise the power are the
superiors and are appointed or elected by legal proceduresto maintain the legal
order. The subject personsto the commands are legalequalswho obey 'the law'
Traditional authority derives its legitimacyfrom the acceptance of it since
hoary past. The persons exercising authority generally are called 'Master' who
enjoys personal authority by virtue of their inherited status. Their commands
carry legitimacybecausethe customs but they can also give order based on their
personal decision. Thus conformity with customs and personal arbitrariness are
two characteristicsof traditional authority. The personswho obey the orders here
The power exercised by a leader-may be a prophet, a hero or a
demogogue-Substantiatingthe claim by virtue of his magical powers or heroism
or other extraordinary gift or qualities. Charisma and its acceptance-forms the
basis of legitimacy in this system. The persons who receive the commands obey
the leader because they believe in his extraordinary abilities rather than the
stipulated rules or the dignity of a position. The charismatic leader selects his
disciples or followers as his officials based purely on their personal devotion to
him ratherthan ontheir specialqualificationor status.
Max Weber says, ""Power isthe chanceto imposeyour willwithin a social
context, even when opposed and regardless of the integrity of that chance."
Max Weber did not like the fact that employees were more loyal to their
boss their organizations which therefore created a family-like structure. He
instead believed in a more formal and rigid structure of organization known as
~ukaucrac~is a non-personal view of organizations that follows a formal
structure, where rules formal legitimate authority and competence are
characteristics of appropriatemanagementpractices,
Weber asserted that bureaucratic forms of organization were more efficient
than other systems of administration to the degree that they are able to
depersonalized their rules and procedures and therefore, to achieve high levels of
calculability in the decision-makingprocess. This increase
"the more bureaucracy 'depersonalized' itself, i.e., the more completely it
succeeds in achieving the exclusion of love, hatred, and every purely
personal, especially irrational and incalculable, feeling h mthe executionof
official tasks.In the place of the old-type ruler who is moved by sympathy,
favor, grace, and gratitude, modern culture requires for its sustainable
external apparatus the emotionally detached, and hence rigorously
States w ~ ~ ~ i htend I,,LU~IIIU~policy drsd policingfunctions
to large populatlon5 ot belrevers
Economies whose main function is to distribute - ~dsand 1
fhe modern agency.
a t ;". The military
12. MaxWeber and Bureaucracy -Webertn Model afBurrllucracy:
The model of legal- rational bureaucracy designed by weber has following
(1)Official businessis conductedon a continuousbasis;
(2) Every official and every office is part of an authority. Higher officials or
offices supervise while lower offices and officialshavethe right of appeal.
(3) Officials do not own the resources necessary 65for rendering the duties,
butthey are accountablefor useof official resources.
(4) Offices cannot be appropriated by the incumbents as private property
which can besoldand inherited
(5) Administrationisconductedonthe basisbewritten documents.
13. MaxWeber and Bureaucracy -Inthis model of bureaucracyWeber also discussed in detail the characteristicsof
the officialwhich are as follows:
(1)He is personally free (and not a servant to anybody personally) and
appointedto an officialpositiononthe basisof acontract.
(2) He exercisesthe authority delegatedto him inaccordancewith impersonal
rules, and his loyalty is expressed through faithful execution of his official
(3) His appointment and job placement depend upon his technical
(4) Hisadministrativework is hisfull-time occupation; and
(5) His work is reworded by a regular salary and by prospects of regular
InWeberian modelof bureaucracythe mainelements are:
)Sphere of competence
Personal and public ends
14. MaxWeber and Bureaucracy m
The mainelements arediscussedindetail:
i. The ImpersonalOrder: In Weber's 'ideal type' construct of bureaucracy
the most strikingand 'impersonal order' should orient the actions of the
bureaucrats both inthe issuance of the commands to subordinates and
their obedience to them.
ii. Rules: The fundamental characteristics of Weberian rational legal
authority is the attribute of continuous organization of officialfunctions
bound by rules.
iii. Sphere of competence: According to Weber a specific sphere of
competence involves a sphere of obligation to perform functions which
havebeenmarketoff as part of asystematicdivisionof labour.
iv. Hierarchy: According to Weber the organization of offices follows the
principle of hierarchy, that is, each lower office is underthe control and
v. Personaland public Ends: There is great amount of utility and relevance
in Weber's ideal type as far as it pleads for the separation of
administrative staff from the ownership pf the means of production or
vi. Written Documents: The last principle Weberian bureaucracy is that
"the administrative acts, decisions and rules are formulated and
recorded in writingeven in cases where oral discussion is rule or is even
The most commendable part of the Weberian model is its insistence on the
selection of technically qualified people. The other criteria for the official are the
fixed salaries paidin money.
Do you agree Bangladesh Government follow the Weberian
The natureofBureaucracy in Bangladesh shapedby irrationaldomination
historically. In independent Bangladesh, Politicization of Bureaucracy as well as
corruption in state bureaucracy emerged tremendously. 'Bureaucracy in
Bangladesh is now caught in the tug-of-war between the major political parties,
especially the party and their allies in power. Theirtransfer and posting to suitable
locationsandpositions, theirpromotion, andcareerarenow decidedonthe basis of
15. Thereare three kindsof problems with Bangladesh's bureaucracy-
First, as per Transparency International (TI) reports, Bangladesh is among
the most corrupt countries in the world. The performance of the bureaucracy
in Bangladesh is ranked the world's worst, along with those of India and
Second, there are problems with the overlapping structure of bureaucracy,
vague divisions between government functions and citizen obligations, and
unclearpoliticalprocess of policy formulation.
Third, there areproblems with human resources quality
The f m of statebureaucracy in Bangladesh in thegiven ways-
Measures of LegalRationalBnre.aucracy
I IBureaucracy in Bangladesh
A bureaucracy follows a
consistent set of rules that
control the functions of the
controls the lower levels of the
organization's hierarchy by
applying established rules in a
consistent and predictable
Bangladesh -has no
composite 'and unified 'rule
of management in
Bureaucracy controlled by
political parties, especially
the party and their allies in
Written Rules and
(Division of Labor)
Fixed division of labor among
bureaucrats; who is doing what responsibilities; mixed up
needs to be clearly spelled out- 1of private and official
into a hierarchy of authority
and follows a clear chain of
As above and overlapping
bureaucracy creates illegal
relation amongoBciaIs and
breakdown the chain of
An organization is organized
( ~ ~ m n n e lhired
on grounds of
required and work
is assigned based on the
experience and competence of
place dependson personal
' Recruitments of bureaucrats
m&t take place on the basis of
16. MaxWeber and Bureaucracy
A manager is a salaried official
and does own the administered
unit. All elements of a
bureaucracy are defined with
clearly defined roles and
respsibilities and are
managed by brained and
Lack of skilled officials,
Presence of corruption and
Robert K. Merton:
Robert Merton (1952) criticizes Weber's bureaucracy by observing that the
bureaucratic features, which Weber believes in enhancing rationality and
efficiency, might actually be associated with irrationality and inefficiency.
Merton concludes that bureaucracy contains the seeds of its own
destruction. This part discusses the bureaucratic model of Max Weber fiom
a critical point of view. It focuses on four main irrational limitations that
bureaucracy has in terms of its ideal type, its negligence of informal
organization, and its dehumanization as well as its tense relationship with
democracy. In particular, Weber's bureaucracy does not consider the
important role of the informal relationships that exist in any human
organizations. In addition, many in public administration argue that the
reality of bureaucratic discretion is a threat to democratic norms and
practicesthat govem and rule the American community.
By considering the theoretical explanation of Bureaucracy and above discussion,
we can say that Bangladesh Government cannot follow The Max Weber's
All decisions, rules and actions
taken by the organization are
formulated and recorded in
writing. Performance to be
governed on the basis of
formal, universal, uniform, and
process due to lack of
17. Max Weber and Bureaucracy -Talcott Parsons: Talcott Parsons questions the internal consistency of
Webefs idealtype of bureaucracy. Parsonsdraws attention to the fact that
Weber expects the administrativestaff to be technically superior as well as
possess the right to give orders. But this itself gives rise to conflicts within
bureaucracy since it is not always possible to ensure that high position in
the hierarchy of authority will be matched by equivalent professional skill.
In such case the individuals working in an organization will face the
problem of whom to obey the person with the right to command or the
manwith the greater expertise.
Peter Blau: A number of critics like peter Blau believed that Weberian
model of bureaucracy cannot be applied to administrations of different
places and times. Blaufelt that a fresh look has to be taken at the concept
of rational administration. In a changing environment "the attainment of
organizational objectives depends on perpetual change in the bureaucratic
structure." That is why efficiency cannot be guaranteed by tethering the
officialto a set of rigid rules. Accordingto Blauthe efficient administrations
is possibleonly when an individual is allowed to identifywhit the purposes
of the organization and to adopt his behaviorto his perceptionof changing
Philip SeIznick: Phillip Selznick and others criticized Weber for his
neglect of the power that a bureaucrat assumes whereby is "increasingly
preoccupied with his own social position and in the end Subverts the
professedgoals of the organization by concentratingonly on hisown power
position" No impersonal order can stop bureaucrats becoming power
mangers and may even encourage clandestine motives in them. In a
democratic setting it is also very difficult to a bureaucrat to be neutral and
impersonalinthe face to hectic politicalactivity around him.
18. MaxWeber and Bureaucracy m
Problems of Webedan Model of Bureauemcy:
Weberian Bureaucracy organization has been considered once superior than
ad hoc or temporary structure. It has been termed as rational and ideal leading to
efficiency. The efficiency in bureaucratic organization comes through rationality
and predictability of behavior because everyone knows the consequence of his
action become actuallythe action is undertaken.
However, Weberian bureaucracy has been criticised because of its inefficiencyand
has been termed as a symbol of inefficiency.There are many dis-functional aspects
of bureaucracywhich is referred to asbureau pathology.
Looking into the needs of modern organisations, bureaucracy has many
shortcomingsand is, therefore, not suitable.
In human and
~ o a l '
Max Weber refrned the structure to a more stable, organized and easy-to-
operate framework to avoid the problems of bureaucracy that Americans now
associated with the federal big government. Based on the above six important
characteristics, more effective decision-making and better results were aimed at.
These principles and characteristicswere widely received by both the public and
private sectors, and the very basics of a bureaucratic system are actually based on
these six principles proposed by Max Weber in his theory of bureaucracy.
20. MaxWeber and Bureaucracy 6
The Theory of Social and Economic Organisation, Max Weber
The Methodology of Social Science,Max Weber
Bureaucracy, Martin Albrow