Max Weber was born on April 21, 1864 in German Erfurt and died on June 14, 1920 in Munich, Germany. He studied law at Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Berlin where he graduated in 1889. In 1892, he habilitated as a Privatdozent (Private lecturer) in a field of Roman, German and business law. During his scientific work, Weber took an interest in sociology, economics, law and thelogy. In sociology he has been the key person, since now. Among his key works belong “Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus”, from 1904 (English “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” and unfinished “Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft” published postmortem in 1925 (English “Economy and Society”).
From the view of management there are important his thoughts about leadership (authority) - he distinguished three types:
- Traditional - the authority comes from the tradition (e.g. family business)
- Charismatic - the authority is based on the authority of a leader’s personal qualities (e.g. Henry Ford)
- Legal-rational - the authority is based on a system of formal and impersonal rules (bureaucratic organization)
Only the third form is considered by Weber, in his magnum opus Economy and Society, as the right one. On the basis of the thought of legal-rational authority, Weber designed a model of bureaucracy as the only correct and rational way of management of large organizations.
Basic bureaucracy characteristics according to Weber are:
- Running of the organization is based on general and impersonal rules
- Officials’ competences are clearly and firmly established
- Organizational structure and decision making are based on the principle of hierarchy
- Employees are expert trained in all rules
- Administrative staff are separated from the ownership
- Decisions and ruels are always kept in written form