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Discussion of Whether Max Weber’s Ideal Model of Bureaucracy is No Longer Relevant in Today’s Society

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The main elements of Weber’s ideal model of bureaucracy included division of labour, hierarchy, and selection of staff based on technical competence. It provided for officials to be appointed, not elected, fixed salaries and promotions based on seniority of service. Weber suggested a model for the organizational environment that would be representative of any organization, and follow the principle of hierarchy. That is, higher officers supervising the work of lower officers. One major characteristic of Weber’s ideal model of bureaucracy is Specialization and Division of labour. Task specification looks at jobs or tasks being performed in accordance with the rules and regulations of the organization. This implies that there is no possibility of job rotation or enlargement. According to McAlister-Kizzier (2014), “Weber’s style of division of labour, focused more on the assembly line style of job where employees had a narrow set of tasks or one task to complete.” This has now become outdated as younger employees embrace job flexibility and appreciate meaningful work. In the past, employees were encouraged to work independently, whereas in the modern workplace collaboration is encouraged.

Following this is the fact that bureaucracy facilitates inflexibility and routinization which proper job design argues, has a negative impact on individual performance as it suppresses creative expression. This rigidity does not leave any chance for the now necessary “out of the box solutions”. According to Vittana, “because bureaucracy is so dependent on rules and regulations, changes to a business or international governmental landscape can be difficult. It takes time for a bureaucracy to draft new rules and regulations to the new environments that have evolved.” Furthermore, bureaucracy, as it applied to government agencies, failed miserably and there arose the need for New Public Sector Management. The trend today is towards Economy, Efficiency, and Effectiveness, which are three pillars of New Public Management that this effectiveness is accomplished by workers who have the opportunity to see better working conditions, be involved in decision making and have jobs which promote personal goals. New Public Management has also embraced technologies and saw their inclusion within the public Service. The advent of these (particularly those relating to communication, such as email, Instagram) now serve as a catalyst in the delivery of services.

Having examined Weber’s bureaucracy we will notice that most of the principles have lost their relevance in the modern world. In practice, bureaucracy impedes businesses rather than streamlining them. Government’s desire is to be more efficient in the delivery of services to the public; therefore the disadvantages of bureaucracy have caused the need for New Public Sector Management and massive change. As such it must be seen that the statement is valid. Weber’s ideal model is a far cry from what is needed for the proper functioning of organizations in today’s society.


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  2. Kuligowski, K. (2019). 7 Things to Know About Working With Gen Z. Retrieved from
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  5. Mulder, P. (2017). Bureaucratic Theory by Max Weber. Retrieved from
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