Criticism of Weberian Bureaucratic Theory

One critique was Weber's claim that bureacratic organizations were based on rational-legal authority. Parsons (1947) and Gouldner (1954) note that Weber said authority rests both in the "legal incumbancy of office" and on "technical competence". This works if superiors have more knowledge and skill, but often this is not the case.

Thompson notes that in modern organizations authority is centralized but ability is decentralized (Thompson 1961). In fact staff-line distictions seem to be a structural resolution of this authority-ability quandary that Weber overlooked.

Weber also doesn't distinguish between definitions and propositions in his model. His list of distinguishing characteristics are linked between each other

Udy (1959) found in examining 150 organizations and found no correlation between the bureaucratic attributes of the organization and it's rational attributes.

More recent theorists think that earlier theorists misread Weber and distorted his views. Weber was defining a formal rationality that was not necessarily optimal for efficiency. He realized that formalization could degenerate into formalism, and that bureaucratic forms concentrated power at the top and could cause an "iron cage" to imprison the low-level worker in obscurity and monotonous detail.