Max Weber Bureaucracy - Theory and Disadvantages

Max Weber was a German sociologist, whose profound contribution to the development of social and political concepts, places him highly eminent. Unlike Comte and Durkheim, he argued in favor of normative dynamics of the society rather than solely using empirical analysis. For example, he wrote that one cannot understand individual behavior by putting him into quantitative equations because his thoughts and rationalism influence his actions; therefore, understanding the factor in terms of ideas and beliefs plays an important role.



Weber is famous for his bureaucratic model theory, which espouses the importance of bureaucracy at the administrative level. Near to Max Weber, bureaucracy is the best form of any governing system, which could account for ideal administration and public matters.


He believed so because People in the bureaucracy are recruited solely based on merit, which is determined by highly competitive testing procedures. They are mastered in their respective duties and possess profound knowledge, necessary to countering challenges and problems on the governmental level.


Once they are recruited, later tightly bound by the rules and laws. The system ensures that the Bureaucrats would keep detaching themselves from any emotional relatedness, and always working on what the constitution gave them responsibilities. Moreover, with the help of administrative power, they maintain law and order.



Weber further argued that as different individuals from various backgrounds become a part of the bureaucratic system, the overall collectiveness and the exclusive merit under one umbrella make this system highly effective and performing. Furthermore, the system of bureaucracy is hierarchical, which is splendid in two ways. First, the desire of being promoted boosts every individual bureaucrat to put in his efforts, so that he could reap benefits in terms of promotion and perks. Secondly, the hierarchy in the system keeps everyone accountable to their seniors. In this way, check and balance remained highly imminent in the bureaucracy.



As Human nature is governed by the characteristic of self-interest, people in the bureaucracy are attracted by the heavy pay and salaries. In this way, they achieve not only Job security, but also fear of losing their job, which ultimately transmutes into the system's efficiency and effectiveness.


Have the Weber Ideal Bureaucracy had any shortcomings?


Well as far as Max Weber is concerned, it had been mentioned earlier that his theories were mostly driven by abstract concepts, in the absence of empirical and positivistic analysis, one cannot conclude Weber is utterly right. Because when the Bureaucratic institution is practically incorporated into the governing system, there are many disadvantages of Bureaucracy as well.


Bureaucrats are recruited for the same nature of job for their whole life, and although the societal dynamics are continuously changing, they have to do repeated work for the long term. Moreover, they are implementers rather than policymakers, resultantly, the creativity dies due to redundancy and banality of the nature of the job.



Moreover, owing to the excessive power in hand, the risk of power misuse becomes high. Moreover, as in the case of the sub-continent, bureaucracy is turned into detrimental rather than beneficial; first because of lack of institutional clarity and stronghold, and second, the nominal democratic norms, put the bureaucratic institution at risk of politicization.


Moreover, in countries like Pakistan, where most people are not literate and informed, the execution of laws becomes a dire challenge for the bureaucracy. On the other hand, the other regional powers such as feudal lords and sardars, who inherently attained controlling power over the people many times outweigh the administrative watchdogs in terms of influence.


Moreover, although the hierarchical system has some sorts of advantages, what about the monopolies and political influence in the bureaucracy? It is evident from the reports that recruitment on a merit basis does not make sure that the system would remain transparent and accountable. Corruption becomes common in bureaucracy, which makes the system nothing but futile.


Vice versa, the emergence of technocracy on the governmental level has also raised questions about the effectiveness of bureaucracy to deal with complex problems of the modern era. As technocrats are more specialized in a particular field and keep themselves updated and informed with the changing nature of problems and their solutions, the bureaucracy, then, does not become suitable if more effective alternatives exist.