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Criticism for Max Weber’s Bureaucracy

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Criticism for Max Weber’s Bureaucracy

Written by Dr. Wasim Al-Habil
College of Commerce
The Islamic University of Gaza

Beginning with Max Weber, bureaucracies have been regarded as mechanisms that rationalize authority and decision-making in society. Yet subsequent theorists have questioned the rationality of bureaucracies. Which features of modern-day public bureaucracies are rational? Which are not? Buttress your argument with citations from organization and/or public administration theories.

Introduction: Max Weber’s work about bureaucracy, translated into English in 1946, was one of the major contributions that has influenced the literature of public administration. However, Van Riper (1997) argues that the work of Weber on bureaucracy has no influence on American PA until the 1950’s. The word bureaucracy is derived from two words; “bureau” and “Kratos.” While the word “bureau” refers to the office the Greek suffix “kratia or kratos” means power or rule. Thus we use the word “bureaucracy” to refer to the power of the office (Hummel, 1998, 307). “Bureaucracy” is rule conducted from a desk or office, i.e. by the preparation and dispatch of written documents and electronic ones. Bureaucracy is borrowed by the field of public administration (PA) from the field of sociology. It was borrowed by PA in much a similar way that practices of business were borrowed from the field of business administration and economics. Weber (1946) presents bureaucracy as both a scientific and generic model that can work in both the public and private sectors (Rainey, 1996). For example, Weber asserts that: The bureaucratic structure goes hand with the concentration of the material means of management in the hands of master. This concentration occurs, for instance in a well-known and typical fashion, in development of big capitalist enterprise,…...

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