Weber pointed out that we cannot analyze our social behavior without “verstehen”, which means understanding or insight in German. He pointed out that we can’t analyze social behavior with the same criteria as we use to measure height or temperature. To fully understand behavior, we must learn the subjective meanings people attach to their social actions. It’s also important how they themselves view and explain their behavior.

We owe credit to Weber for a key conceptual tool: the ideal type. He sets up ideal types for social actions, legitimate authority, and bureaucracy.  While Weber is presenting this model of bureaucracy, he was not describing any particular organization. His purpose was to provide a useful standard for measuring how bureaucratic an actual organization is. Weber emphasized the basic similarity of structure and process found in the otherwise dissimilar enterprises of religion, government, education, and business. Weber saw bureaucracy as a system that is quite different from the family-run business. He developed an ideal type of bureaucracy that would reflect the most characteristic aspects of all human organizations. However, In reality  the perfect bureaucracies do not and will not exist; no real-world organization corresponds exactly to his ideal type.

There are five basic characteristics in Weber’s ideal bureaucracy. (1) Division of labor (specialized experts perform specific tasks). (2) Hierarchy of authority (each position is under the supervision of a higher authority). (3) Written rules and regulations (standards and goals). (4) Impersonality (without hatred or passion while perform duties). (5) Employment based on technical qualifications. (hiring based on qualifications rather than favoritism)


One response to “Weber

  1. Excellent! The essentials of Weber’s theory.

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