Aptitude and Foundational Values GS Paper IV

Max Weber Statement analysis

”Max Weber said that it is not wise to apply to public administration the sort of moral and ethical norms we apply to matters of personal conscience. it is important to realise that the state bureaucratic morality.” Critically analyse this statement.(Civil Services Examination 2016)
  • Max weber conceived bureaucratic organisation as closed system i.e.. the organisation is not influenced by socio-economic condition and values prevailing outside. the bureaucracy has its own rules and regulation which binds the administrator who is different in his own value system.
  • The closed system bureaucratic mode model had values like neutrality, strict adherence to rules and regulation, impersonal attitude, efficiency. These values are suited only for the ideal society where administrator work is restricted to maintaining the status quo.
  • However in a developing country characterised by inequality, poverty, discrimination and other social ills most important values needed are change, innovation, empathy and effectiveness. Hence, the administrator has to use his conscience has an impact on the welfare of society.
  • For example, the conductor in a bus may ask a passenger to vacate the seat for in favour of the senior citizen.it is not the duty conductor to provide a seat, but it is his morality which guided him to do so.
  • Hence merely organisational rules alone are not sufficient in ensuring development and welfare; personal conscience is important to keep one self and the entire organisation from deviating from the stated objective.

Max Webar said that it is not wise to apply to public administration the sort of moral and ethical norms we apply to matters of personal conscience. It is important to realize that the state bureaucracy might possess its own independent bureaucratic morality. Its true upto an extent. Bureaucratic values can differ to personal values or morality. In administration, one cant favor his/her son/daughter or any other relative. Things should work out as per merit and objectivity. In personal values, subjectivity can have it own place. In personal life , ones value can be to serve his/her parents at the first place and then look after for others. This should not happen in bureaucracy

But Personal and administration values and morality can also overlap up to an extent. some of the most common perceived values in public administration are integrity, fairness, accountability, loyalty, excellence, respect, honesty, probity etc can easily overlap with individual or personal values. Moreover there can be an intersection between personal and professional values or morality.

In Other Words:-

Max Weber’s felt that bureaucracy should be a goal-oriented organisation designed according to rational principle. According to him, bureaucrats should be guided by explicit rules and responsibilities which should override moral and ethical norms of personal conscience. For example, if a public servant is allowed to select contractor for a road construction, he might resort to bribing taking and favour certain inefficient contractor who pays him bribes. So, he should only act as a facilitator while the contractor is selected through bidding. Hence, the bureaucrats can’t be allowed discretion in public administration and their actions should be guided by standard operating procedures set by political executives. Such bureaucratic morality would include hierarchy, written rules and standard operating procedures instead of personal morality. On the other hand, not allowing bureaucrats to use personal conscience might not be correct always. Putting strict rules might tie them from acting for greater public good and social justice in some scenarios. For example, in a train in which general compartment is full of people, a handicapped old woman with a general ticket enters sleeper coach to have some breathing space. The TC should use his moral discretion and allow her to stay there. Personal conscience is indispensible in personal life as well as bureaucracy. However, as Weber said, certain limitations must be laid on discretion of bureaucracy so that they do not misuse their power.

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