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Max Weber Ideal Bureaucracy Paper

Words: 1173, Paragraphs: 16, Pages: 4

Paper type: Essay, Subject: Business Operations

This sample essay on Max Weber Ideal Bureaucracy provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Max Weber was a German sociologist who studied a variety of human interaction and developed a number of social theories. One of the highlights of his career work was his “ideal bureaucracy” theory, to which he defined bureaucracy as having certain characteristics that make up the bureaucratic entity.

According to Max Weber, the authority in ideal bureaucracy revolves around legal competence and functions according to these criteria: 1) they are personally free and subject only to their impersonal official obligations; 2) they are organized in clearly defined hierarchy of offices; 3) each office has clearly defined competence; 4) there is free selection; 5) candidates are selected based on technical qualifications; 6) they are remunerated by fixed salaries; 7) the office is the primary occupation; 8) there is system of promotion; 9) the official works independently and without appropriation of his position; and 10) the official is subject to strict and systematic discipline and control in the conduct of the office.

What Is Impersonality In Bureaucracy

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He also posited that, if given the chance, the monocratic variety of bureaucracy is capable of attaining the highest degree of efficiency and would be the most rational known means of carrying out the imperative control over human beings. The primary source of the superiority of bureaucratic administration lies in the role of technical knowledge. He also likened that bureaucratic apparatus should be independent and possess there own means of subsistence. Like in the case of war, if the bureaucratic machinery is technically efficient, it will continue to function normally just as it had for the previous legal government.

This model of ideal bureaucratic organization can be summarized to possess the following characteristics: 1) Management by rules. A bureaucracy follows a consistent set of rules that control the functions of the organization. 2) Division of labor. Authority and responsibility are clearly defined and officially sanctioned. 3) Formal hierarchical structure. An organization is organized into a hierarchy of authority and follows a clear chain of command. 4) Personnel hired on grounds of technical competence. Appointment to a position within the organization is made on the grounds of technical competence. 5) Managers are salaried officials. 6) Written documents. Written documents ensure that there is continuity of the organization’s policies and procedures.

Given the ideal picture of how a bureaucracy should function, this model offers a stable and hierarchical model for an organization. The term bureaucracy may have gained negative connotation but some of its criteria still applies in modern organization.

Firstly, the employment based on technical qualifications should be upheld, both in public and private sectors, if efficiency is highly valued. If employees hired posses the specific characteristics demanded by the job, it is most likely that a function will be properly carried out. Aided with an evaluation based on particular performance standard, it will provide an objective goal to perform as much as possible. Currently, both private and private organizations used the performance-based incentives as a way of motivating employees to excel and give beyond the minimum requirements of their positions.

Secondly, the characteristic of being purposely impersonal also has positive implication. By treating co-employees and customers equally, individual differences may be lessened, leading to rendering of services without the biases. If such action is demanded from each employee, equal treatment may be given to all regardless of social classes.

Thirdly, the concept of written rules and decisions is still applicable even in a highly evolving business and organizational environment. Documentation is one of the requirements in quality management systems, such as ISO 9000 family of standards, to ensure that they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders. Decisions are documented to serve as guide of actions, which can be used by the managers in initially assessing a problem. Though no two situations are the same, documentation is a way of tracing the different parts of an operation, which even a newly hired member of an organization can use to guide how a job should be done.

Bureaucracy is often associated with delay and inefficiency. Some theorists argued that Weber’s model may have worked during his time but considered obsolete now. In the words of Dwight Waldo, “Why would an instrument (bureaucracy) designed to be impersonal and calculating be expected to be effective in delivery sympathy and compassion?” Indeed some points in the given model were criticized by many theorists.

Firstly, the top-down and centralized authority is considered too slow and unresponsive to the world of rapid change, technological revolution, global competition and demanding customers. By strictly adhering to the hierarchy of authorities, timely resolution of conflicts or addressing a simple matter may be difficult. The employee may choose not to do anything to resolve a problem, on the basis that it is beyond his or her jurisdiction, to avoid conflict with the manager who may have different views.

Secondly, the government sector is now venturing into entrepreneurism through its public-private partnership efforts. The spirit of flexibility is required which emphasizes “getting a job done”, by considering whatever is at hand rather than looking at the strict rules on “how a job should be done”. Aside from cost, time is another consideration of efficiency. The centralization of authorities and rigid hierarchy may make it difficult to attain time efficient decisions.

Thirdly, most organizations in private and public sectors benchmark on teamwork in attaining its goal. Weber’s model of a knowledge-equipped yet isolated worker, whose primary concern should be confined within his/her explicit functions, would find it very difficult to adjust in multi-tasking environment. Managers who follow strict hierarchy in giving decisions may also find it difficult to accept or consider suggestions coming from the rank-in-file, however sharp those suggestions are.

Bureaucracy is of great importance in carrying out the ideals of a government. Its people are one of the important factors of translating government programs to actual services. An efficient and well-disciplined bureaucracy may also translate to good governance.

Max Weber’s ideal bureaucracy may be considered outdated in certain aspects but it still possessed some relevant considerations. Bureaucratic competence would assure the citizenry that only equipped individuals hold important positions, especially those that would be affecting a large number of people. Bureaucratic neutrality is still also highly valued. Neutrality does not necessarily depersonalize the government, rather, it values equal treatment and unbiased distribution of government services, regardless of social classes.

Affected by various factors, our culture change and evolve. Our concept now of how our government should be may differ after a while. In the same way, our ideals of how our bureaucracy should be may also change in the future. Nevertheless, the Filipino bureaucracy, as partner of our government, must aspire competence and efficiency in carrying its tasks. Reforms may come in different names. Trials may beset our country, but a well-disciplined and competent bureaucracy will always be a plus-factor to any regime of government.

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