Bureaucracy and the Imaginal Realm: Max Weber, Rationality and the Substantive Basis of Public Administration
Author ORCID Identifier
Julie Langer: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1864-0351
Perspectives on Public Management and Governance
Max Weber is an important figure in Public Administration. Nearly all foundational texts in the field include his theory of bureaucracy. Yet, although the field teaches the core tenets of an efficient bureaucracy, namely, formalization, division of labor, impersonality, and hierarchy, his view of the formally rational thought systems undergirding it and the role of values in shaping bureaucratic action are largely overlooked. An attempt here is made to reexamine Weber's conceptualization of bureaucracy and review his propositions regarding both the promise and peril it holds for social progress. In order to evaluate the degree to which Weber's darker propositions have come to fruition and the forces at play acting as bulwarks against them, the relationship between formal and substantive rationality is considered against the backdrop of changing administrative models in the United States. Based on this analysis, a substantive path for the future of Public Administration in the United States is laid out.
Langer, Julie, "Bureaucracy and the Imaginal Realm: Max Weber, Rationality and the Substantive Basis of Public Administration" (2022). NIU Bibliography. 50.
Department of Public Administration