Should public administrators be restricted to only laid down rule in the discharge of their duties as espoused by Max Weber or should they have some amount of discretion? What are the benefits and disadvantages of each?
First one must ask, what is administrative discretion? Administrative discretion is the exercise of professional expertise and judgment, as opposed to strict adherence to regulations or statutes, in making a decision or performing official acts or duties. Decision making ability comes to mind when thinking of administrative discretion; and when making decisions, public administrators have to rely on the professional expertise of others in an attempt to make their decisions and then use their judgment when making decision(s). As indicated in the text book Max Weber view is that there is the principle of fixed and official jurisdictional areas, which are generally ordered by rules, that is, by laws or administrative regulations. The regular activities required for the purposes of the bureaucratically governed structure are distributed in a fixed way as official duties; the authority to give the commands required for the discharge of these duties is distributed in a stable way and is strictly delimited by rules concerning the coercive means, physical, sacerdotal, or otherwise, which may be placed at the disposal of officials; and methodical provision is made for the regular and continuous fulfillment of these duties and for the execution of the corresponding rights; only persons who have the generally regulated qualifications to serve are employed.
In my interpretation of Max Weber's views; laws are in place in society for a reason and as in government issues, which usually affects the nation, should be followed to the letter and without question. An in the matter of going to war with Iraq, if the rules weren't followed, we would of been at war with Iraq just as soon as the President made up his mind that he wanted to go to war; regardless of the facts. Now, if public administrators were free to go about as they pleased, and policy making would take on a whole new meaning,