M A X WEB E R, fascinated by the patterns of government administration in the great empires of Prussia and Austria, was the first to chart the features of bureaucracy as a universal social form. He predicted that with economic growth and the advance of technology, the importance of bureaucratic organizations would gradually increase. But he would have been astonished to learn that by the 1990s the country where bureaucracy as a social form had most completely triumphed was a country in East Asia of whose existence the whole corpus of Weber's work took minimal account.