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Max Weber – Bureaucracy Essay

Specialization And Expertise

❶Other organisations like this are the fire service, police and hospitals.

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The Application Of Rules

However, while a consistent application of the rules is generally a desired result, this does not necessarily mean that bureaucrats always will know precisely how to behave and do their job.

According to James Q. What Government Agencies Do and Why They Do It , most government agencies have goals that they want to accomplish, but the more vague these stated goals are and the less easily they are translated into tasks, the more the behavior of bureaucrats will come to depend on other factors. Additionally, these goals do not necessarily dictate how a police officer should deal with, for example, a belligerent panhandler on the street.

Thus, the particular circumstances will be important as the officer attempts to bring the situation under control. Herbert Simon, in his book Administrative Behavior, argued that the uncertainty of such situations is precisely what causes bureaucrats to follow rules and routines.

According to Simon, because policy outcomes arising out of bureaucratic action are often difficult to determine or observe, structured and organized behavior helps to reduce uncertainty and preserve stability within the organization. Wilson also argues that when agency goals are unclear, behavior may come to depend on the professional training of the bureaucrats in question.

In antitrust or competition law, economists tend to favor breaking up concentrations of market power when they are economically inefficient, whereas attorneys are more likely to favor such breakups when the law has been broken. Finally, when an agency has multiple constituencies with competing interests, bureaucrats may feel pulled in different directions. For example, an agency charged with regulating air pollution may have to weigh the benefits of clean air against the potential costs to business of pollution abatement.

Dissatisfaction with agency actions may lead certain constituents to seek formal rule changes from the legislature overseeing the agency, in turn, sending conflicting signals to the bureaucrats themselves. Several examples exist of administrative cultures that strongly emphasize an adherence to written laws and rules. Such systems have been characterized as following the Hegelian civil service, or Rechtsstaat model, a model that requires senior civil servants to be trained in law.

Government scholar Christopher Hood has referred to civil servants in such systems as trustees of the government, acting in an autonomous fashion However, in contrast to the Weberian ideal of impartial expertise, French civil servants can be highly political, and many French politicians are former civil servants. Similarly, in Germany and Italy a lack of impartiality among civil servants may clash with the need to follow rules closely.

The Rechtsstaat model of civil service has been contrasted with the public interest model found in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In these countries, there is not the same emphasis on administrative law as in Rechtsstaat countries, and consequently, there is less adherence to the notion of rigidly following rules.

Despite this characterization, the degree to which the civil service is politicized varies considerably across these countries. For example, British civil servants have traditionally been considered to be neutral, working for the incumbent government, whereas in the United States, political appointees come and go with each presidency, and often are added or subtracted from particular agencies as presidents see fit. Weber observed that bureaucracies were made more efficient by the selection of people with technical expertise in the organization.

This expertise enables bureaucrats to perform their tasks in a specialized fashion and to apply strict criteria to their decision-making processes. In addition to his observations, Weber also argued that bureaucratic organizations should recruit and select personnel based on merit and expertise in order to ensure an independent and consistent application of bureaucratic rules.

Once granted some autonomy in action as well, bureaucrats could use their specialized knowledge, free from political interference. Fabrizio Gilardi demonstrates that many western European nations created independent regulatory agencies with the purpose of overseeing newly privatized energy and telecommunication companies.

In the United States in the s, President Andrew Jackson implemented what became known as the spoils system, whereby loyal party workers were given high-ranking government jobs on a rotating basis.

The system was created to eliminate what Jackson saw as a pattern of wealthy elites receiving the majority of federal appointments. This system of spoils or patronage enabled average party workers to obtain government jobs.

Office holders were generally accountable to the politicians they helped elect, but populists, progressives, and urban reformers viewed the spoils system as a corrupt method of giving plum jobs to unqualified representatives of special interests. Along with this negative perception of the spoils system, several events in the late nineteenth century resulted in the slow conversion of the American federal bureaucracy to a merit-based system from a patronage system. First, Congress passed the Pendleton Act in , which required that federal jobs gradually come to be filled according to merit and qualification.

However, depleted resources, vague statutory goals, and competing constituent influence all indicated how difficult it could be to separate politics from administration in bureaucratic policy making. Although the complete separation of policy implementation or administration from politics has been an elusive, if not an impossible, goal to achieve, policy makers and scholars agree that there are some areas of policy making, such as macroeconomic monetary policy, in which bureaucratic independence from politicians is a concern of paramount importance.

Conventional wisdom suggests that if politicians had direct control over the money supply and interest rates, they would print more money to finance their projects and would lower interest rates to engineer economic booms. The main consequence of both activities would of course be soaring inflation, which would diminish the credibility of any political commitments toward stable monetary policy.

Finally, according to Weber, expert bureaucrats applying a rational-legal framework had to be placed in a hierarchical setting to function properly. In a hierarchical setting, bureaucrats would work in a disciplined fashion toward common objectives set forth by the head administrators. This rationalisation can be defined as a process whereby the means chose to pursue ends can be determined by logical and rational calculation Wilson, When applied to organisations, this rational-legal authority means bureaucracy.

When Weber was putting forward his ideas regarding bureaucracy he discussed it as "an ideal type" however a common misconception is that by this Weber meant bureaucracy was a desirable ideal when in fact he despaired of how dominant this organisational structure was becoming. The "ideal type" is simply a subjective element in social theory and research which formed from characteristics and elements of the given phenomena, but it is not meant to correspond to all of the characteristics of any one particular case.

According to Wilson "the ideal type of bureaucracy is governed by a formal set of rules and procedures that ensures that operations and activities are carried out in a predictable, uniform and impersonal manner". This comes from the four foundational aspects that according to Weber bureaucracy consist of; functional specialisation the formal division of labour , hierarchy of authority the structure that gives those in a superior position authority, simply because they hold that position , system of rules everything is based upon following a formal set of written rules about practices and procedures and impersonality rules are followed without regard for emotions Grey, According to Weber it was these four concepts that meant.

Its decisive feature is that it eliminates an orientation to values because they are non-technical. Rationality is instrumental formal when problems are solved by the application of technical criteria. In opposition, substantive value rationality is a type of decision making which is subject to values and an appeal to ethical norms - this is not something that bureaucracy is concerned with especially given substantive rationality does not take into account the nature of outcomes.

Weber also concluded that bureaucracy was substantively irrational following his work and reading on the "overall societal effects of its rise" Grey, This is where Weber coined his term of "The Iron Cage" of rationality. The idea was that because bureaucracy was becoming so dominant in every aspect of life and work more and more people's lives were lived within the constraints of a rationalised system.

Grey takes it ones step further and claims that bureaucracy undermines our very humanity. Whilst this may seem ludicrous, he presents a very interesting idea.

We live in a world "in which every experience is organised from the hospital in which we are born to the undertakers that take us to our graves" Grey, The word itself in the modern day world is often frowned on and associated with issues of red tape as well as a "needless waste and pedantic obsession with rules" Grey, Right or wrong, the boss must be supported.

Such a yes-man ship is eroding efficiency and lowering the morale of straightforward honest employees who do not wrongly toe the line of the high ups—political or non-political and are made to suffer by wrong placements or frequent transfers. He suggests remedies for these maladies as well. Civil servants are after all mortals. They have defects and weaknesses typical of human nature.

Each man loves his own brief moment of authority. A public servant attempts to make his public office yield private gain or uses his power to confer unfair advantage on some special group, of course under pressure. For instance, there had been a constant increase in the staff of the colonial office though the work of the office had been steadily decreasing after the grant of independence to colonies one after the other. Parkinson is rightly of the view that officers make work for each other.

If the supreme power is located in the hands of a king or dictator he may use civil servants to secure the attainment of his ends. In a subject country also the ruling power may so use the bureaucracy as to serve its ends as was done in India by British Government. But if the supreme power is located in the people, the civil servants cannot be unresponsive to their needs and dictatorial in attitude towards them. In both the United States and Britain the social programmes of the New Deal and the Attlee government were carried through.

They should get the praise where it is due and should not be unnecessarily criticized. In a modern age bureaucracy is a necessity and its outright condemnation is irrational; of course the system should be so built as to avoid unnecessary delay, red-tapism and formalism and checks should be so devised that bureaucrats may remain true servants of the people.

Therefore it is desirable to examine the safeguards which are necessary for keeping it under proper control without sacrificing its virtues so that public interest may be best served. In conclusion we may quote John A. Man for man and woman for woman, there is not now and there never has been any reason for believing them to be different from their fellow citizens who are self-employed or work in private industry.

The bureaucracy is now so numerous that no citizen can indict it without indicting the nation itself. It has certain maladies. Efforts are to be afoot to suggest some panacea so that bureaucracy becomes an asset to democracy. Max Weber, an eminent German sociologist, gave a systematic analysis of bureaucracy. He developed a typology of authority—traditional, charismatic and legal.

Weber goes in details an Theory of Domination. He refers to three types of Domination — Traditional; Charismatic and Legal. Domination is founded on the belief in the desirability of rational principles. He opines that legal domination is best exemplified by bureaucracy. The position of bureaucrat, his relations with political bosses and his colleagues are governed by impersonal rules. Max Weber refers to ideal type model of a bureaucratic from of organization.

He opines that ideal type is not achievable in the real sense. He considers the ideal type of bureaucracy as a mental construct that is not achievable in the real sense. He considers the ideal type as abstraction, an idea or model. He was keen that this ideal type of bureaucracy should be accepted in modern state system. They are appointed, not elected.

Promotion is according to seniority or achievement or both. Promotion depends on the judgment of the superiors. A modern bureaucrat is not supposed to be high browed, snobbish individual living in the ivory tower, dealing with the human beings as if they were driven cattle and mere abstractions.

He knows it for certain that he is dealing with the human beings who have their aspirations whims and emotions. As such, he cannot ride roughshod over them. If he does so, the government gets unpopular. No popular government can tolerate such an official who is responsible for its unpopularity resulting in dooming of its future prospects.


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- The Weberian bureaucracy that has emerged in the early 20th century, due to Max Weber’s works on bureaucracy, is now widely spread throughout public and private sectors. However, it is not a perfect structure and .

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Nov 03,  · Bureaucracy essay Words | 11 Pages Introduction A bureaucracy is a large organization that is designed to achieve a common goal through a . ADVERTISEMENTS: Read this essay to learn about Bureaucracy. After reading this essay you will learn about: 1. Definition of Bureaucracy 2. Meaning of Bureaucracy 3. Characteristics 4. Types 5. Safeguards 6. Defects 7. Max Weber’s Theory. Contents: Essay on the Definition of Bureaucracy Essay on the Meaning of Bureaucracy Essay on the Characteristics of Bureaucracy .

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