Weber vs. Mintzberg. A comparison of two different idealistic bureaucracy models

Seminararbeit, 2015

35 Seiten, Note: 1,7


Table of Contents

I. List of Contents

II. List of Illustrations and Tables

1. Introduction

2. Max Weber's bureaucracy Model (Laura Schulze)
2.1. Weber's Life and Work
2.2 The Rationalization on three Levels
2.2.1 The Rationalization on the Level of Personal Life Style
2.2.2 The Rationalization on the Level of World Views
2.2.3 The Rationalization on Level of Institutions
2.3 Rules for Administration
2.3.1 General Rules
2.3.2 Rules for Administrative Staff

3. Henry Mintzberg (Laura Rother)
3. 1 Biography of Mintzberg
3.2 Basic Assumptions
3.3 Elements and Members of an Organization
3.4 Coordinating Mechanisms
3.5 The Design Parameters
3.6 Structure in the Context
3.7 Combining the Basic Attributes of Organizations

4. Comparison of Mintzberg and Weber
4.1 Similarities of the Models (Laura Schulze)
4.2 Differences of the Models (Laura Rother)

5. Implications for an Advancement (Laura Schulze)

6. Conclusion and Prospects

III. References

II. List of Illustrations and Tables

Figure 1: Summary of the forms of dominance

Figure 2: Six Basic Parts of the Organization

Figure 3: Simple Structure

Figure 4: Machine Bureaucracy

Figure 5: Professional Bureaucracy

Figure 6: Divisionalized Structure

Figure 7: Adhocracy

Figure 8: Ideology

Figure 9: Politics

1. Introduction

“Ours has become, for better and for worse, a society of organizations. We are born in organ- izations and are educated in organizations so that we can later work in organizations. At the same time, organizations supply us and entertain us, they govern us and harass us [...].“1

This quote illustrates the importance of organizations in our society. Henry Mintzberg defines in his book from 1989 organizations as “[...] collective action in the pursuit of a common mis- sion, a fancy way of saying that a bunch of people have come together under an identifiable label [...] to produce some product or service.“2 Remembering this definition the following work approaches a very specific and scarily dedicated topic in that field, because there are no simple rules to classify organizations. According to Mintzberg the majority of researches fo- cused only on organizational structure and habits like governments.3 But this approach is not enough. As Mintzberg claimed, it is not anymore possible to talk of the organization much more should be talked about the existing diversity of them, so called species.4

According to Max Weber an organization is the clear distribution of authority. He describes it as the result of continuous social behavior or more exactly as the result of a leading behavior through administrative staff. A crucial element for this specific conduct is the submissiveness of subordinates. It is expressly clear that he strongly focused on the bureaucratic authority within organizations.5

In this term paper a more specific or rather special kind of organization is made to the subject of the discussion as the main aim of this term paper is to compare the two approaches men- tioned before. During this work both perspectives are presented and explained with their unique backgrounds. In the main part a comparison brings both perspectives together and elaborates the communalities as well as the differences. This happens with the aim to show that Mintzberg´s elaboration can be seen as advancement to Weber´s bureaucracy model.

2. Max Weber's bureaucracy Model (Laura Schulze)

In the following chapter one of the most famous bureaucracy models will be described. This section consists of three different parts. At first Weber's life, work and his most noticeable contributions will be shortly summarized. An important element of Weber's bureaucracy model is the rationalization process on three different levels.6 This will be the topic of the second part of this section and in end the rules for the bureaucratic administration will be shortly discussed.

2.1. Weber's Life and Work

Max Weber was born on 21/4/1864 in Erfurt. He grew up in Berlin because his father was a member of the German parliament. Weber lived in a wealthy family and had an early contact with well-known personalities from politics of Germany. At the age of eighteen he decided to start law studies in Heidelberg. Later he moved back to Berlin. In 1889 he graduated in the field of commercial law and in 1892 he qualified as a university lecturer in Roman law. In 1894 he started his academic career in Heidelberg and later he moved to Freiburg. There he stayed for three years and after that he got appointed to a professorship of economics in Hei- delberg. At this time he already was famous in German politics and public. As he was under a high pressure he suffered a nervous breakdown. Due to the nervous collapse he had to lay down his work as a professor in 1899. After recovering he went back to the university in Hei- delberg. During this time he founded the influential "Heidelberg Kreis" where important polit- ical topics got discussed. He lost his interest in politics and started to focus on his research, political congresses and giving speeches. The First World War changed his life completely as he became the head of a large hospital in Heidelberg. But he was still active in writing articles for a famous German newspaper. In 1918 he went back to the educational sector and became a professor in Vienna. He died on 14/6/1920 in Munich after he became diseased with a pneumonia.7

He published his most famous papers in the field of legal sociology. Even if he wasn't the first who dealt with the topic of bureaucracy his studies strongly influenced German sociology in this field. With his model he formulated one of the most important ones and influenced other famous scientists working in this area. With his work Weber influenced the research in soci- ology strongly and became one of the most popular and influential German sociologists.8

In this term paper his bureaucracy model will be discussed in an organizational context. We- ber was not an organizational researcher in a classical sense but he influenced the develop- ment and the understanding of huge companies strongly. Often he is regarded as the first re- searcher in organization theory. Starting point for his theoretical work was the rapid growth of companies during his life time. One of the central topics in Max Webber's work is legal dom- ination. That means authority caused by legal provisions. That could be regarded as one rea- son why he mainly focused on larger organizations as work in smaller groups often does not require strict legal provisions.9

As already mentioned Max Weber developed one of the most famous and best-known bureau- cracy models. It is supposed to be idealistic and is actually not based on empirical data. He tried to describe a general model that could remain constant even during revolutions or times of change. Weber focused on the idea of rationality and regarded it as the most important points in his model.10 According to Weber bureaucracy is both the most rational form and a legal form of domination.11 Weber does not consider bureaucracy in pejorative sense. Accord- ing to Weber, it is the most rational and proficient technique of organization, management of the state and the society. In this context he relates to the government and private administra- tion.12 This model is based on the rationalization process on three different levels. Those types will be described in the next section.13

2.2 The Rationalization on three Levels

A central topic in Weber's bureaucracy model is the rationalization process. According to Max Weber, this development happens on three different levels - the level of personal life style, the level of world views and the level of institutions. In the following chapter the rationalization on the different levels will be shortly described.14

2.2.1 The Rationalization on the Level of Personal Life Style

On the level of personal life Weber describes the general tendency of people to live life as they really want to. Life gets more free of other values and it is lived by considering individu- al values. Life gets more shaped by the own world view and people start to rely on their per- sonal values. That means people start to live life free of religious influences and of other peo- ple's opinions as they start to rely more and more on individual values. This development shows similarities with the second level, which will be described in the next part of this term paper.15

2.2.2 The Rationalization on the Level of World Views

On this level Weber describes a historical development based on the analysis of historical documents. Weber calls this tendency the "Demystification of the world" as it describes how people increasingly dissociate from God. This tendency can be roughly divided into four different steps which will be described in the following paragraph.16

Weber starts with the description of a magical world view. He circumscribes it with the term monistic. According to this world view the spiritual and normal world build a union. That causes because those two levels cannot be treated separately from each other. This world is full of different numerous spirits. People believed that those ghosts can manage everything in life for them. This world view supported humans to find an easy explanation for their unjusti- fied suffering.17

Hence, people can use the power of those spirits to organize their whole life and there is no need to rely on the own individual skills and values. But this world view also has one big disadvantage. It prevents the domination of the world as it can be seen as not moral to use natural resources for the own needs of a person.18

The second world view he describes is on a slightly higher level of rationality. He calls it du- alistic. According to it the natural elements can be treated separately from the spiritual world. This development begins with the evolvement of numerous unspecialized gods and ghosts which later get certain tasks. Later on a hierarchy of the spirits develops. This hierarchy caus- es that the higher spirits leave the world and monotheistic religions develop. The development of the hierarchy of gods forces humans to live life more rational and efficient. This tendency also makes it easier for people to use natural resources for individual needs. As the people are now not able any more to call one spirit for every problem, they have to rely more on their own abilities.19

Later on, the Calvinistic world view developed and people moved further away from God. There was still a high relevance of a religious belief. But now people were representatives of god. That means that humans further removed from god. At the beginning this tendency got strongly influenced by the Jewish religion. Furthermore, this tendency got supported by the Reformation caused by Martin Luther because now people had to rely on their own and couldn't get rid of their sins by confession. Weber claimed that the development during the Calvinistic phase was the most important step towards the total demystification of the world. With this development the world got totally disenchanted. But being an entrepreneur and earning money was still regarded as an unholy act.20

During the next step, the Puritanical phase, this opinion changed and being an entrepreneur was regarded as something holy. Now it was possible to generate profit. Furthermore, it was typical in this phase to live a quite ascetic life. That's why employees during Puritanism worked hard and regarded it as something that was willed by god. Hence, the Puritanical entrepreneurs were supported. Later on Puritans got forced to use the methods of the Calvinists as they were more successful.21

Thus a blending of the religious with the non-religious world. The economical system devel- oped to something that was lead by god. It developed to an own system with its own rules.22

2.2.3 The Rationalization on Level of Institutions

As dominance is a crucial topic for Weber's bureaucracy model it is important to define the three different types before analyzing his idealistic model. But first of all this term will be defined. According to Weber dominance is the chance that a certain order will be obeyed by subordinates.23 He differentiates between charismatic, traditional and the legal form of author- ity. The three types will be briefly discussed in the following part of this term paper. At the end of the main ideas will be shortly summarized and compared. The rationalization on the level of institutions is the crucial point in Weber's bureaucracy model. In the first two parts of this chapter a historical development was described. In contrast to that, there will be charac- terized three prototypes of dominance new.24 As these three types are ideal they cannot be found very often in reality. Weber claims that in real life you can only observe mixtures out of them.25

One person carries out the charismatic leadership. This person is regarded as someone who is chosen by god or who is expected by other people to have very special characteristics. The leader promises unprecedented wealth and to care about the well-being of the subordinates. For this uncommon behavior the subordinates are extraordinarily devoted and follow the rules without questioning. As there is no legally defined hierarchy or structure within charismatical- ly leaded organizations they are often chaotic and characterized by very undifferentiated structures. The only aspect that could be considered as a kind of pattern building element is the special personality of the charismatic leader. In organizations like that the choice of partic- ipants works without legally defined rules, formal criteria or documents. The leader defines the choice. According to Weber's ideas charismatic dominance especially develops during revolutionary times and times of change.26

This type of dominance is regarded as quite unstable and is the least efficient way of authority. Thus Weber claims that it will sooner or later automatically shift to the other two types described in the following paragraphs.27

Basis for the traditional type of dominance are historical grown and well-established rules or structures. The relationships between the leader and his subordinates are depended on traditions as well as the existing values. As mentioned in the previous part the system is not based on rational rules but it is bend by traditions. Subordinates follow because they try to keep their status stable in society. A typical characteristic of a traditionally dominated system is a close circle of people out of which a new leader is chosen (e.g. the family). This group is normally connected due to a personal relationship.28

General foundations for legal dominance are formal rules. Every interaction is based on formal legislations. Everyone, even the leader, is bound to the severe regulations. Legal dominance is supported by bureaucratic structures which are determined by certain rules. The system is no longer depended on one person that is leading but it works completely independent from people. Weber claims that the legal form is the most stable kind of dominance as it is bound to legal legislations. Legal dominance is regarded as the purest and most efficient type of legal dominance. This will be described in detail next chapter.29

Finally, the most important points are summarized in a table below and the different idealistic types of dominance according to Weber are compared. For a better understanding, examples for every type are added.

Figure 1: Summary of the forms of dominance30

illustration not visible in this excerpt

2.3 Rules for Administration

Weber defined consecutive rules for work within administration systems. Some of them focus on the work within bureaucracy in general. Others regulate the acts of officials. Every law Weber postulated, will be described briefly within the next two parts of this term paper.31 The first chapter of this part will focus on the general rules.

2.3.1 General Rules

The rules described briefly in this chapter are the basis for Weber's bureaucracy model. The effectiveness of legal authority is based on the ideas described in the chapter. Every decision and the fulfillment of tasks is bend by law. Those rules are mostly general, formulated in a linguistically abstract manner and remain quite stable over a longer period of time. They are quite comprehensive and the officials can easily learn them. Offices are strictly bound to the rules formulated.32 Legal norms get formulated by an agreement or by imposition and they are based on expediency or rational values. According to Weber, an essential condition for the establishment of rules is the obedience of a part of the officials involved in the process.33 Rules and rights for incumbents do not exist because of the protection of the officials. They are a necessary condition to keep the objective and independent position of a bureau.34 Bu- reaucracy is also characterized by the clear definition of competences and a strict division of labor.35 The model is characterized by a great specialization of the officials. The tasks that are assigned are supposed to remain stable over a longer period of time. The functions given get routinized as they will be repeated many times. Every official has to fulfill special duties. For the execution of every task, the employee has a certain authority.36 Offices should be usually organized in formal hierarchies. Lower offices should be always be supervised by higher ones.37 Offices are structured strictly vertical. The official channels and the determined stages of proceedings should be fulfilled at any time.38 The rules used to organize offices should always be technical norms or regulations.39


1 Mintzberg, 1989, p. 1.

2 Mintzberg, 1989, p. 2.

3 Cf. Mintzberg, 1989, p. 93.

4 Cf. Mintzberg, 1989, p. 93.

5 Cf. Dieckmann et al., 1996, p. 88.

6 Cf. Kieser, 2014, pp.43.

7 Cf. Korte, 2004, pp.98.

8 Cf. Wolf, 2008, pp.60.

9 Cf. Schreyögg and Steinmann , 2000, p.47.

10 Cf. Staehle, 1999, p.29ff.

11 Cf. Weber 1960a, p. 19

12 Cf. Weber 1978, pp. 956.

13 Cf. Kieser et al. 2014, p.46.

14 Cf. Kieser et al. 2014, p.47

15 Cf. Kieser et al. 2014, pp.47.

16 Cf. Kieser et al. 2014, pp.48.

17 Cf. Kieser et al. 2014, pp.48.

18 Cf. Kieser et al. 2014, pp. 48.

19 Cf. Kieser et al. 2014,p. 49.

20 Cf. Kieser et al. 2014, pp.48.

21 Cf. Kieser et al. 2014, p.50.

22 Cf. Kieser et al. 2014, p.50.

23 Cf. Kaesler, 2014, p.220.

24 Cf. Wolf, 2008, pp.62.

25 Cf. Sebaldt et al., 2006, p.205.

26 Cf. Wolf, 2008, pp.63.

27 Cf. Weber,1960b, p.92.

28 Cf. Wolf, 2008, p.64.

29 Cf. Wolf, 2008, p.64.

30 Cf. Wolf, 2008, p.65.

31 Cf. Wolf, 2008, p.66.

32 Cf. Weber,1960a, p.18.

33 Cf. Weber,1960a, p.18.

34 Cf. Weber,1960a, p.19.

35 Cf. Wolf,2008, p.66.

36 Cf. Wolf,2008, p.69.

37 Cf. Weber,1960a, p.18.

38 Cf. Wolf, 2008, p.66.

39 Cf. Gale and Hummel, 2003, p. 411.

Ende der Leseprobe aus 35 Seiten


Weber vs. Mintzberg. A comparison of two different idealistic bureaucracy models
Technische Universität Chemnitz
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bureaucracy, organisation, management, Max Weber, Henry Mintzberg
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Laura Rother (Autor)Laura Schulze (Autor), 2015, Weber vs. Mintzberg. A comparison of two different idealistic bureaucracy models, München, GRIN Verlag,


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