Weber, Max and the Civil Servant

  • Siegrun Fox FreyssEmail author
Living reference work entry


Definition of Public Servant

Public sector employee with broad qualifications required for effective professional and managerial work in government.


The profession of the public administrator emerged in the late 1800s. The new best practices and new professional principles associated with public service were combined under the terms merit system or civil service and widely adopted by national, state, and local governments. Max Weber, a scholar and practitioner of public administration, provided detailed descriptors to make the new personnel policies transparent, their benefits, as well as their darker side.

The Professional Civil Servant

Servants in fiefdoms versus public servants in nation-states – Weber used this contrast to distinguish between rulers and their servants under premodern, agrarian conditions versus government officials in modern, industrial countries. Weber, 1864–1920, was...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceCalifornia State UniversityLos AngelesUSA