Causes of Bureaucratic Autonomy: The Impact of Organizational and Cultural Factors

What are the variables primarily affecting bureaucrats' autonomy in decision-making and recruitment? This paper directs our focus towards institutional features in an attempt to define the conditions stimulating - or countering - bureaucratic autonomy.

ARENA Working Paper 15/1998 (html)

Morten Egeberg

This paper deals with bureaucratic autonomy and how this autonomy is related to certain institutional conditions. By `bureaucratic autonomy' is meant the extent to which officials, in their actual behaviour, are sheltered from the interests and actions of actors such as the political leadership, interest groups, news media and international organizations. To what degree are the recruitment and careers of officials encapsulated from political interventions? To what extent are bureaucrats, when developing policy proposals and implementing public policies, dependent on signals and demands from their political superiors, organized interests, and international organizations? Does formal structure, for instance the amount of 'agencification', make a difference in this respect? To what extent do certain cultural norms legitimate bureaucratic autonomy, or, on the contrary, the primacy of political masters, the access of interest groups and the public to administrative decision arenas? Thus, our theme is one of enduring scholarly and practical interest, both in terms of the empirical questions it addresses, and the normative issues that it raises.

Tags: institutionalism, public administration, organization theory
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM