Tuesday, 29 June 2021

The classic model of bureaucracy by Max Weber - The Ideal Weberian Model

Bureaucracy, in its ideal form, is rational and impersonal and based on rules, regulation rather than ties of kinship, friendship, or charismatic authority.

Bureaucratic organization can be found in government, non-governmental organizations and business companies.

A state's administrative system is referred to as "the bureaucracy" and its officials as "bureaucrats".


What is Bureaucracy?

Bureaucracy is a specific form of organization defined by legal authority, division of work (specialization), permanence, complexity, professionalism, chain of command, and hierarchy. (Source: Bert Rockman Professor of Purdue University in Britannica).


Bureaucracy is a system for managing a country or company or institution that is run by a vast number of (non-elected) officials employed to follow and implements the rules, and functions of their organization.


The term bureaucracy was coined as bureaucratie by the French philosophe Vincent de Gournay in the mid-eighteenth century. It is derived from the French bureau (writing station), and -cratie, (government).


Characteristics of Bureaucracy

Max Weber (1864–1920), a German sociologist, is the prime and leading theorist of bureaucracy and he discussed the ideal characteristics of bureaucracies. He also explained how bureaucratic organizations emerged historically. The distinguishing characteristics of bureaucracy, according to Weber (political economist), set it apart from other sorts of organizations based on non-legal forms of power.


It was the most technically advanced type of organization, with specialized knowledge, assurance, consistency, and unity. Weber's theory of bureaucracy, on the other hand, highlights not just it's comparative technical and competency advantages, but also the decline of caste systems and other forms of inequitable social connections based on a person's standing.


In its purest form, the bureaucratic organization would be dominated by universalized rules and processes, making personal rank and ties meaningless. Bureaucracy is the acme of universalized standards in this form, in which identical instances are treated similarly as codified by law and rules, and in which the administrator's tastes and discretion are restrained by due process rules.


Thus, the emphasis on a hierarchical system, specialization, procedural regularity, continuity, a legal-rational basis and fundamental conservatism are the basic features of pure bureaucratic organization.  


Criticisms and Paradoxes of Bureaucracy

Historical Perspective: Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay (French) coined the term bureaucratie (Translation: “government by desks”) to describe a government ruled by insensitive rule makers and enforcer who neither understood nor cared about the impacts of their actions.


Bureaucracy is often conceived as unresponsive, sluggish, inexpert and undemocratic. Bureaucracy and bureaucrats convey images of red tape, excessive rules, a lack of creativity, central decision making, and limited accountability.


Far from being portrayed as competent, popular depictions of bureaucracies frequently portray them as inefficient and unadaptable. Since the features that constitute bureaucracy's organizational advantages also include the potential for organizational failure (dysfunction), both flattering and unflattering portrayals of bureaucracy can be valid. As a result, the features that make bureaucracies effective may also cause organizational (pathologies) disorders.


In developing nations, the country's administrative apparatus has rarely come close to obtaining Weber's impersonal, rule-based position. Moreover, it hasn't been able to deliver the level of competence that Weber depicted or claimed was typical of bureaucracy.



The rise of a money-based economy (eventually leading to the development of capitalism) and the concomitant necessity for impersonal, rational-legal transactions ushered/ kindled in the rise of bureaucracy as a favoured form of organization. Instrumental organizations (public-stock commercial corporations) emerged quickly as a result of their bureaucratic structure, which equipped/ allowed them to handle/ manage the various demands of capitalist production more efficiently than small-sized producers.

In both the corporate and public sectors, the emergence of capitalism, the reliance on standard monetary transactions, expansion of govt works, urbanization, globalization and technological advancement have necessitated bureaucratic forms of organization.

The critical parts of the bureaucratic type of organization, on the other hand, can conflict with one another and are frequently at the root of accusations of bureaucracies as dysfunctional. To summarize, the same factors that make bureaucracy function can also operate against it.

The bureaucratic form has only recently (within the past few centuries) become more prevalent although Weber witnessed bureaucratic forms of government in ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire's final stages, and imperial China.

Different governments around the world have reformed their administrative operations in response to failures and the necessity to develop universal programs of benefit, both of which necessitate tax collection by a reliable institution.

All kinds of governments need administration. Despite widespread negative opinion about bureaucracy, a bureaucracy is mandatory to function.




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