Max Weber: A Short Biography
Being a man with great aspirations, Max Weber’s life was filled with complexities and complications. Therefore, it is worthy of one’s time to explore the reasons of his success, a revolutionary thinker of the 19th century whose theories still remained as the subjects of interest among academics of the new millennium. In this paper, we shall explore on his life, followed by what influenced and motivated Weber to achieve the milestone of his life: scientific management theories. Lastly, we shall critique on the relevance of his theories in modern management. Biography
Born in Erfurt, Thuringia, on 21st April 1864, Max Weber was the eldest son of Max Weber Senior and Hellen Fallenstein Weber. Suffering from meningitis at the age of four, Max Weber adopted reading as his past time which developed his academic strength at a young age (Secher 1980). Max Weber studied at the University of Heidelberg in the year 1882, specializing in the subject of Law. However, his education was disrupted while volunteering for military training as an Officer. In 1884, he resumed his education and graduated in 1890 (Secher 1980). He took up an offer at Freiburg University as an Economic Professor in 1894, a year after his marriage with Marianne Schniger, the grand niece of Max Weber, Senior. Ironically, Weber was haunted by a long term psychiatric breakdown and withdrew from work during the peak of his career as in 1897(Gerth & Mill 1982).
Although psychologically disturbed, Weber inherited a vast amount of wealth from his deceased father (Secher 1980). The monetary gains enabled Weber to recuperate from his conditions along with the time and space to develop one of his academic masterpiece, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” in 1904, which contested on the relevance of capitalism in the absence of spiritual belief (Gerth & Mill 1982). Max Weber died of pneumonia in Munich, on 14 June, 1904. However, he kept the world in awe with the introduction of Bureaucracy. A term which was quoted from his work “Economy and Society” published by Marianne in 1922; which advocated logical and scientific research methodology known as ‘rationalisation’ (Casteel 2009). Bureaucracy was originated from his skeletal invention of a system of management hierarchy while institutionalising a series of hospitals during World War I, of which; in hope to remedy the inequality of hereditary succession and the abused of authority within the German empire (Gerth & Mill 1982). Influences:
Political and Social Factors
Hegelian philosophy had been the German paradigm for centuries, originated from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel who advocated that Nations could only be prosperous when the state, the civil society and its citizens are managed with strong moral principles (Pippin, Hoffe & Walker 2004). Despite the grand notion, the Hegelian society became a system of corruption and abused, under the governance of the aristocrats. Defunct and degenerative, its relevance was threatened in the 19th century by the evolution of socialism. Unlike the Hegelian society, the mission of the modern socialism is to serve beyond self-interest, while promoting its non-affiliation between a society and its state; which resonated with the oppressed peasants and middle-classes of Germany (Steinmetz 1993). The problem was further intensified by the ruling of Kaiser William ll, whose political interests polarized from Bismarck’s political philosophy which has served as a political stabiliser in Germany (Burbank & Cooper 2010). During his reign, the Kaiser had developed his policies through public image and popular opinion of the Germans. Unfortunately, the approach proved to be unwise, given the autocratic nature of Kaiser William the II, policy making became a game of propaganda to glorify him along with the riddance of any negative publicity or criticism directed at the imperial family (Kohut 1991). Inspired by...
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