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Bureaucracy: Weber’s or Hammurabi’s? Ideal or Ancient?

PAQ, Vol. 26 No. 3, (2002)

This article examines the administrative practices of the Babylonian
Empire during the Hammurabi era between 1792 and 1750 B.C. The
main thesis is that public administration in the First Babylonian
Dynasty had many of the characteristics that Max Weber (1946/1987)
identifies for the “ideal type” of modern bureaucracy. The article uses
transcripts, some going back to 3800 years ago from the Hammurabi
administration and legal documents of that era to demonstrate that
Weber’s type is more ancient than ideal. The article also draws some
attention to similarities between Weber’s accountability and that of

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