Max Weber Bureaucracy Theory: Classical Sociological Theory

Mon, 02/10/2014 - 04:13 -- Umar Farooq

Definition of Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy is a formal organizational structure which directs and coordinates the efforts of the people involved in various organizational tasks. Or “Bureaucracy is the administrative system that allows modern societies to function”.

To understand modern societies, one must understand the structure and functions of bureaucracy. Bureaucracy setup to do work e.g. government, army officials etc. the hierarchy of ranks is a clear example of bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is a large scale, formal organization of highly trained, experts whose activities are coordinated in a hierarchical change of command. The people who are engaged with this organization are called bureaucrats. Bureaucracy I the central point of the government and each thing should be handed to it Bureaucracy is an administrative organization in which power and authority is distributed among the bureaucrats. According to Weber, bureaucracy promotes the national objects and it is necessary for the d3velopment and control of society”. It has some specific rules and regulations and take care of the national interests. In bureaucracy the administrative affairs are separate from private affairs.

Max Weber Bureaucracy Theory and Model

According to Max Weber Bureaucracy Theory, all organizations have limited human freedom in order to be efficient. The organization tries to compel the members to obey the rules of the organization which results in loss of individual freedom. According to Weber, an organization has power to reward for good actions and punish for bad actions. For this purpose it will clear to know about the needs and demands of the individuals. But it is a forceful way of obedience and show no positive sign during crises. According to Weber Bureaucracy model there is another way to achieve the individuals to obey the rules and it is legitimacy fulfill the needs of an individual. In this case power, authority and legitimacy play a vital role. We have to explain authority and its types.

Max Weber Authority and Types of Authority

Definitions of Authority

According to Weber, authority is related to power. Legitimate power is authority. Authority determines social action and social organization. “Authority is an established right to make decisions and order on the actions of others”.

Types of Authority

Max Weber has classified authority into the following three types.

  1. Traditionalist Authority: It is the belief in sacred norms and traditions which one must obey. It is the authority told by a person and should be followed because a person or a group enjoy the supremacy over others. For example; the authority of parents, Malik, Khan, Nawab, Pir Sahib, Priests, Chaudhry etc.
  2. Charismatic Authority: It is the authority, rests in the hands of a remarkable person because of charisma wisdom and saintliness or invisible power. For example; Muhammad (P.B.U.H) and other prophets of god, Allama Iqbal, Tariq Bin-e-Ziad, Salah-ud-Din Ayubi etc.
  3. Bureaucratic Authority: It is also called legal national authority. It is the authority with the formal office having some rules and regulations and its law and order called bureaucratic authority. For example; president, prime minister, civil service officers, etc.

Characteristics of Bureaucracy by Max Weber

Following are the main characteristics of bureaucracy.

  1. Division of labour: Bureaucracy is divided into small parts called offices or bureaus. Every individual is assigned his/her own duty and responsibility. Every one work to meet the specific needs of the organization. e.g. in Bank, Secretariat, foreign office etc.
  2. Hierarchy of authority: In a social organization every individual has a status in the ladder of hierarchical system. Some of them are on the top who use command while others are at the bottom who obey the order from higher authority.
  3. Public office: bureaucracy has an office, where all the written files are kept in a separate place. Bureaucrats have their offices in which they perform their duties and deal public affairs.
  4. Merit selection: In bureaucracy every member is selected on merit basis. It is free from personal approach, friendship or family connections and a standardizing method is used for the selection of members e.g. C.S.S exams.
  5. Career pattern: In bureaucracy every individual can improve his/her position on the basis of better work and efficiency. The grades, salary, job security improves by seniority and thus reaches to the top. In simple words, when a person is upgraded to the next, gain better facilities, which is a pattern of his/her career.
  6. Objective Rules: A bureaucracy is run by some specific rules and objectives and there is no personal interference of a person. The set rules and regulations is followed by every bureaucrat on the basis of his/her status. These rules are stable and can be learned and followed easily by the bureaucrats.
  7. Permanent Employment: under the bureaucratic set up the jobs and employment is permanent. There is no part time or adhoc basis jobs in bureaucratic organization. A bureaucrat will work for the given time on permanent basis.