Introduction And Summary Of Max Weber’s Contributions

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Introduction and Summary of Max Weber’s Contributions

Max Weber also is known as one of the principal architects of modern social science has a wide range of contributions giving critical inputs to the birth of new academic disciplines like social approach, economics, political science, and religious topics. In analyzing the history of Western societies, he utilised rationalism as a unique technique and central force to shape all Western institutions. These typologies have had the intended impact on the development of subsequent, more specialized sociological inquiries. Max Weber was the first person to formally study bureaucracy and his works led to the popularization of this term. Weber described many ideal forms of public administration, government, and business in his essay Bureaucracy published in his magnum opus Economy and Society, these methods alm prove to be typical measures taken in the modern world.

Max Weber’s Background, the Social Environment of the Time and His Theory

Max Weber was born on April 21, 1864. His father, Max Weber Sr., was a politically active lawyer while his mother, Helene Fallenstein Weber, preferred a more ascetic lifestyle. The conflicts this created in their marriage acutely influenced him. After graduating from school, he studied law, history, philosophy, and economics in detail at Heidelberg University before spending a year in the armed services. When he resumed his studies in 1884, he visited the University of Berlin and earned his Ph.D. in 1889, ultimately completing his thesis on habitation, which allowed him to get a grasp in the area he later went on to flourish in massively. post his father’s death in 1897, Weber suffered a mental breakdown and was overcome by depression, anxiety, and insomnia, which made it impossible for him to teach and conduct research. This was a phase of silence in all aspects. He spent a couple of years acquainted with sanatoriums. When Weber was finally able to resume working in 1903, he became an editor at a renowned social science journal and later became widely known for his famed essays, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. These essays discussed his ideology that the rise of modern capitalism was an attribute of Protestantism, particularly Calvinism. Weber also published three books on religion in a sociological context, The Religion of China (1916), The Religion of India (1916) and Ancient Judaism (1917-1918), contrasted their respective religions and cultures with that of the Western world by weighing the importance of economic and religious factors.[1]

Weber was concerned that authority was not a function of experience and acquired ability but won by oneself and their social status. Because of this, managers were not completely loyal to the organization. Organizational resources were being utilised for the benefit of owners and managers rather than to meet organizational desires. Weber was convinced that organizations based on rational authority, where authority was by default given to the most competent and qualified people, would be more efficient than those based on who you knew and word of mouth . Weber called this type of rational organization a bureaucracy. Max Weber in 1922 brings to memory the finest description of bureaucracy widely acknowledged among scholars and practitioner

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Principle aspects of Max weber’s Theory

Bureaucracy refers to a systematic formation of an organization maintaining uniformity in authority within the organization to ensure efficiency and to be economically effective. Bureaucratic management theory mainly consists of two essential elements, ‘structuring an organization’ into a hierarchy and ‘having clearly defined rules to help govern an organization and its members’. According to Weber, the theory has 6 principles aspects:

· Division of Labor:

Weber believed every task should be broken down into its respective leg and different people should work on different components of the task to increase effective outputs. These tasks are assigned according to the specialized skills of the employees and the most efficient method of accomplishing goals.

· Hierarchy of authority

Weber believed Power is vested not in person, but in the position one holds and the authority flows through the levels of the hierarchy. The management is organized into hierarchical layers, where each layer of management is responsible for its staff and overall performance of theri sector. The bottom layers of bureaucratic organizational structures are always subject to supervision and control of higher layers.

· Formal Selection

One of the principles of the theory is that employees are selected based on technical skills and competences while being paid for their services depending on their position and work done equivalently.. Their contract terms are determined by the organization and the employee has no ownership interest in the company. the job of the employee is to solely work on the responsibilities alloted by the organization

· Rules and requirements

A basic and most emphasized feature of the bureaucratic theory is that the administrative process in any organization is continuous and governed by official rules. Formal rules and requirements are required to ensure uniformity so that employees know exactly what is expected of them. Weber believed that by enforcing strict rules, the organization can more easily achieve uniformity and all employee efforts can be better coordinated

· Impersonal Relationships

Bureaucracy theory suggests that the Official positions should be free from personal involvement, emotions, and sentiments. Thus, decisions are governed by rational factors rather than personal factors creating distant and impersonal relationships between employees, with the additional advantage of preventing nepotism or involvement from outsiders or politics

· Career orientation

Employees of an organization according to the theory should be selected based on their expertise which helps in the employment of the right people in the right portfolio and thereby optimally utilizing human potential and capital. In a bureaucracy, it is possible to build a career based on prior experience and expertise. As a result, it offers lifetime employment chances. The right division of labor within a bureaucratic organization also allows employees to specialize in their areas of expertise further, so that they may become the best in their field and significantly improve their performance.

Weber thought bureaucracy would result in the highest level of efficiency, rationality, and worker satisfaction. He also felt that bureaucracy was so logical that it would transform all of society. Unfortunately, Weber did not imagine and prepare for the fact that each of the bureaucratic characteristics could also have a negative result in their own way.

Comments on Max Weber’s Theories

Though noteworthy, Weber’s idea of Bureaucracy has been received flak on certain grounds. Robert Merton (1952) criticized weber’s bureaucracy by mentioning the features of rationality and efficiency that weber believed were irrational as it doesn’t consider the importance of informal relationships that exist in any human organization and dynamic. One more critic named Talcott Parson questioned the internal consistency of weber’s idealised type of bureaucracy. He draws attention to the fact that weber expects the administrative staff to be technically superior as well as possess the right to give orders. But this itself raises conflicts as it is not always possible to ensure that high position in authority with equivalent professional skill, in such a case people working in an organization will face problems on who to obey, the person with the right to command or the man with greater expertise.

Another kind of critique against the practice of bureaucracy has come from scholars of gender relations. These critiques center primarily upon the rejection of the rationalist and modern form of organization as decidedly male centric. Feminist scholars argued that bureaucratic structures privilege male forms of communication, deemphasize intuitive and experiential knowledge, reduce the creative capacities of employees, and encourage compliance with historically male institutions, such as government. Again, while these critiques address some structures of bureaucracy as suggested by Weber, the idea itself is not augmented in the address.[2]

How Max Weber’s Theories May Be Applied Today

In today’s world, Bureaucracy theory is hardly used in any corporate organization because of a few reasons. Bureaucracy functions independently without having consideration for social & political forces. Weber associated power, authority & legitimacy directly with Bureaucracy. In the era of privatization, Liberalization & globalization, Bureaucracy, as promoted by him. having less significance than the time he wrote on it. The involvement of employees in the decision-making process is very crucial and has been proved efficient in recent times and this directly contradicts the theory which restricts employees to come up with innovative ideas because Bureaucracy is extremely dependent on regulatory and policy compliance making them feel like just a number or machine instead of an individual. A bureaucratic company also follows downwards communication in which the information and decisions flow from the top level to lower tier management causing miscommunication and a monopolistic ideologies environment. While the technical qualifications of the employee is an important aspect, the theory does not consider the employee’s commitment and dedication towards his work. As technology is advancing every organization is putting in more effort to adapt to the latest trends, mainly technology, while the theory believes in the system to formally record all operations in written documents which increases the operation times and reduces the company’s efficiency.

Concluding Remarks

Max Weber has made enormous contributions to the development of sociology, management, capitalism, and religion. Despite all restriction bureaucracy theory has become one of the important theories of present-day management. In a political background we can see that the outcomes of following philosophy are far better than in the case of a generalized corporate background. Only in a scenario like the government or any organization where the hierarchical system is strictly followed these principles prove to be relevant. If the negative aspects of the theory such as inflexibility and strict organizational structure are reconciled, then it can be very effective and can help any organization attains its goals and be more efficient.


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