Max Weber Model of Bureaucracy

Max Weber Model of Bureaucracy:

The credit for laying down the fundamental characteristics that always characterise a bureaucracy, whether belonging to a capitalist society or a community system, belongs to Max Weber. According to him, an organization can be called Bureaucracy only when it meets or approximates the following criteria-

  • The officials are personally free and subject to authority only in respect of their impersonal official obligations.
  • There is a clearly defined hierarchical organisation.
  • Each office has a clearly defined sphere of competence in the legal sense.
  • Filling of offices by a free contractual relationship. The employees and the employers have a contractual relationship.
  • Selection of the candidates for various posts is done on the basis of qualifications and merit as tested through competitive examinations or interviews or both. Posts requiring technical qualification- degrees and diplomas, are filled through merit selections. The candidates are recruited and appointed and not elected to the posts.
  • The officials get fixed salaries in money, for the most part with a right to a pension. The salary scale is primarily graded according to rank in the hierarchy; but in addition to this criterion, the responsibility of the position and the requirements of the incumbent’s social status may be taken into account.
  • The services of the officials cannot be normally terminated except on specific charges and after full enquiry. Whenever any disciplinary action is to be taken against an official, he is given the opportunity to defend himself. The official is, however, free to resign at will.
  • The job of the official is regarded as a career. There is a system of ‘promotion’ according to seniority and merit or achievement. Promotion is dependent upon the judgment of the superiors.
  • The official is subject to strict and systematic discipline and control in the conduct.
  • The office is treated as the sole or at least the primary occupation of the incumbent.
  • The official work is spared from ownership of the means of administration and without appropriation of his position.

These are the major structural features of Bureaucracy and any large scale organization having these features can be classified as Bureaucracy. The Bureaucracy, further observes Max Weber, is value-neutral in the sense that it is to apply objectively rules and regulations to the cases. It is impersonal in the sense that the authority is exercised by the officials in their official capacities and in accordance with the rules and regulations which clearly define their powers and jurisdiction. Analysing the Weberian Model of Bureaucracy. Dr S. R. Maheshwari observes, “Bureaucracy emerges as uniquely impersonal, neutral, passive and instrumental. Its behavioural characteristics are objectivity, precision and consistency”. It is the instrument for running the administration whether of the state or any other large scale organization.

Five Fundamental Principles involved in the organization of the Bureaucracy (Weber’s View)-

While analysing the basic principles which provide a basis to the concept of bureaucracy, Max Weber lists ‘five beliefs’ upon which it is organized. These five beliefs provide a rational basis for bureaucracy. These provide an answer to the question as to why a special legal authority- bureaucracy, should be organized for exercising the authority of the government and running the administration of the state, and upon what principles it has to work. These ‘five beliefs’ as discussed by B. B. Misra, are-

  • That a legal norm can be established either by agreement or by imposition with a claim to obedience on the part of the members of a corporate group or organization.
  • That the law is a system of abstract rules convincing all possible cases of conduct within the organization, the administration of law being the application of these rules to particular cases.
  • The fundamental source of authority in the legal type is the authority to the impersonal order of an offcier holding a specifically legitimized status under the rules with power to issue commands.
  • That the person who obeys authority does so in his capacity as a memeber of the corporate group and what he obeys is only the law.
  • That the members of the corporate group, in so far as they obey a person in authority, do not owe this obedience to him as an individual but to the impersonal order. In other words, there is an obligation to obedience only within the sphere of the rationally defined authority which, in terms of the order, has been conferred upon him. In simple words, one obeys the rank and position and not the person.

These principles underlie the organization and working of bureaucracy.


Concept of BureaucracySocial Conditions during Mughal Period
Politics of InterventionMughal contributions to Literature
Motives of ColonialismMughal School of Painting
Administrative Law Sources and ScopeCultural Developments in Medieval India– NIOS

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