Rules and Public Administrators


Max Weber advances the theory that rules are very basic in the administration of duties. In this regard, Weber strictly advocates for the respect of authority and laid down procedures when undertaking given tasks. This kind of theory is easily applicable to the roles of public administrators because in the course of carrying out their duties, there are laid down rules and procedures that must be followed.

There are obviously specific advantages and disadvantages attributed to respecting authority and strictly adhering to laid down procedures (as advocated by Max Weber); but in the same light, there are also many disadvantages against the same. The question against this observation however lies in the context of undertaking duties for public administrators. This study seeks to answer this question by noting that public administrators should be given their own discretion when undertaking their duties. This point of view is however supported through an elaboration of the advantages and disadvantages associated with the adherence to rules and regulations

Advantages of Adherence of Rules

In many spheres, the adherence to rules has been used to protect the public against rogue officers in the public sector (Best-Practice, 2009, p. 3). This is the same principle that applies to public administrators because many of their subjects are sometimes subjected to poor services brought about by rogue officers. Rules and procedures help to curtail such practices by protecting the public against such extreme situations.

Secondly, rules are synonymous to adherence to laid down standards (Best-Practice, 2009, p. 3). When perceived in the context of the service public administrators offer the public; rules and regulations help to ensure the quality of services offered to the public is acceptable and does not vary. In addition, in the course of offering basic services to citizens, public officers are bound to make mistakes from time to time. Rules help their superiors to detect such mistakes in good time and isolate them for future corrections (Best-Practice, 2009, p. 3).

Advantages of Discretion

One of the biggest disadvantages of being tied down to rules is the fact that rules heavily restrict creativity and uphold rigidity (Advameg, Inc., 2011). The world is a dynamic place and not many problems that public administrators face are normally encompassed in rules. For instance, there are many new issues which are brought about by technological development (like cyber crime) being evidenced in the world and not many laws cover new offences or services to be undertaken through technological means. When an officer is faced with such kind of situation, it is normally essential to be creative and use one’s own discretion instead of absconding to do the required duties (because there are no laid down procedures to carry out the given task).

Public administrators are also often faced with complex issues that cannot be solved through laws and regulations. Sometimes some issues may be too complex, such that, solving them using existing laws would require a lot of bureaucracy, which ultimately leads to time wastage and inefficiencies. Personal discretion would be advisable here because public administrators can speed up their services through shorter means that can potentially mean going around certain laws. This would reduce time wastage and possibly increase the efficiency of their services.


The theory of authority, rules, and regulations according to Max Weber is not essentially fruitful when analyzed in the context of the services public administrators have to offer. This is because public administrators are normally faced with complex situations in service provision that are also compounded by new issues that are not covered by existing rules and procedures. Flexibility therefore ought to be observed and discretion needs to be upheld to the public administrators’ for them to efficiently undertake their duties.


Advameg, Inc. (2011). Deregulation. Web.

Best-Practice. (2009). Financial Compliance. Web.

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