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Max Weber and Bureaucracy

            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, which finds their essential characteristics in this process. A corresponding process occurs in public organization (1946, 221).
             This belief in science was evident in Max Weber's rational-legal authority, which became the defining feature of organizational structures, especially government bureaucracies, to this day. It steered organizational setups to rational based considerations, which are in line with the science of administration idea. In other words, Weber's bureaucracy consists of the traditional way of thinking in public administration that relied on the same "ingredients" to reform public administration based on the science of administration (Thompson, 2005).

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