Weber, Wilson, and Hegel: Theories of Modern Bureaucracy


Fritz Sager is a professor of political science in the Centre of Competence for Public Management at the University of Bern, Switzerland. He specializes in administrative studies and theory, policy research and evaluation, organizational analysis, and Swiss politics. His research has been published in Governance, Public Administration, Political Studies, Policy and Politics, West European Politics, the Journal of Urban Affairs, Public Money and Management, and Evaluation.

Christian Rosser has studied history, political science, and English literature at the University of Bern, Switzerland, where he is now working toward his doctorate in political science. His interest lies in political theory, and, in particular, the history of administrative ideas of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His doctoral research is on the transfer of administrative knowledge between France, Germany, and the United States.


Convergence between Woodrow Wilson's and Max Weber's thought, as well as their differences with regard to the politics–administration dichotomy, can be ascribed to the Hegelian tradition of public administrative theory. On the one hand, Wilson was strongly influenced by Georg W. F. Hegel. On the other hand, there is an empirical connection between Hegel and Weber. Both shared a consciousness of the German bureaucratic tradition based on Hegel's Philosophy of Right. These insights have important methodological and theoretical implications for the contemporary comparative study of public administration.