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Weberian Bureaucracy in India and Pakistan

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According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, bureaucracy is defined as ‘a system of administration marked by officialism, red tape, and proliferation’. It is derived from bureau and cracy which mean a desk and a cloth to cover the desk’. A bureaucracy is a way of administratively organizing large numbers of people who need to work together. Organizations in the public and private sector, including universities and governments, rely on bureaucracies to function. Even though bureaucracies sometimes seem inefficient or wasteful, setting up a bureaucracy helps ensure that thousands of people work together in compatible ways by defining everyone’s roles within a hierarchy.


Max Webber is well known for his theory of bureaucracy. Weber’s theory of bureaucracy has been given many names over the years such as, ideal bureaucracy, rational bureaucracy, weberian bureaucracy and democratic bureaucracy as the theory addresses the different types of bureaucracy in one theory. The principles of bureaucracy – although are usually frowned upon for being cumbersome and leading to ‘red-tapism’ – are found virtually in every formal organization today. Weber’s ideal bureaucracy was designed to eradicate inefficiency and waste from organizations. His basic principles for a bureaucratic organization are:

  1. Specialisation: Bureaucrats specialize in an area that their agency covers. This allows for efficiency because the specialist does what he or she knows best.
  2. Hierarchy: A bureaucracy is set up with a clear chain of command so that everyone has a boss. At the top of the organisation is a chief who oversees the entire bureaucracy. Power flows downward and is decentralised.
  3. Formal Selection: All employees are to be selected upon the basis of the technical knowledge and competence that they display through formal examination, training or education.
  4. Formal Rules and Regulations: A standard operating procedure informs workers about how to handle tasks and situations. The same procedures are followed to increase efficiency and predictability so that the organisation will produce similar results in similar circumstances.


Closely related to bureaucracy is the concept of authority and institutions. Rational-legal institutions are those institutions in which the authority of the institutions is tied to its legal legitimacy and legal rationality. This concept of rational-legal institutions comes from the Weber’s tripartite classification of authority. The best example of this kind of institution is a political or economic bureaucracy. This type of authority is often found in the modern state, city governments, private and public corporations and various voluntary associations. For example, the Indian Government is a rational-legal system.

The Indian Constitution defines the structure and powers of the government and serves as the pattern of rules that Weber says gives a legal-rational system of government legitimacy. In this rational-legal institution one can see Weber’s principles of bureaucracy at play. There is hierarchy, formal selection, specialisation, formal rules and regulations, impersonality, and career orientation in the structure of the Indian state.


According to Max Weber, these bureaucratic elements can be taken and applied as solutions and guidelines for the problems or defects existing within earlier and more traditional administrative systems in Pakistan. These elements if viewed and applied aptly, can contribute as a part of the whole system that by combining and instituting effectively, can increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the administrative structure. This bureaucratic structure can to a greater extent protect employees in Pakistan from arbitrary rulings from leaders, and can potentially give a greater sense of security to the employees. Additionally, the bureaucratic structure can create an opportunity for employees to become specialists within one specific area, which would increase the effectiveness and efficiency in each area of the organisation.

Finally, when rules for performance are relatively stable, employees will be having a greater possibility to act creatively within the realm of their respective duties and sub-tasks, and to find creative ways to accomplish rather stable goals and targets.


Bureaucracy. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2017, from

Kantowsky, D. (1982). Max Weber on India and Indian interpretations of Weber.
Contributions to Indian Sociology, 16(2), 141-174.

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Weberian Bureaucracy in India and Pakistan. (2018, October 23). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 4, 2021, from
“Weberian Bureaucracy in India and Pakistan.” GradesFixer, 23 Oct. 2018,
Weberian Bureaucracy in India and Pakistan. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Aug. 2021].
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