The Politicization of Bureaucracy - SOG 2020 digital workshop

SOG 2020 digital workshop - The Politicization of Bureaucracy: concepts, trends, causes, and consequences  

Time: Friday December 4, 2020 13:00-18:00 (CET)

Organizers: SOG in collaboration with University of Oslo, Department of Political Science. SOG is the International Political Science Association's Research Committee on Structure and Organization of Government (RC 27).

Format: Short presentations and prepared comments (30 mins per paper). We encourage short draft papers down to 2000 words/5 pages. Full papers are also welcome, as long as they are not accepted for publication.  

Participation deadline: Please register and upload your (short) paper through the following website: by November 23. All paper givers will be asked to prepare comments for one paper. Participation will be confirmed, and time schedule will be distributed by November 27. 

We welcome empirical and conceptual/theoretical papers relating to any of the following themes of the meeting. Papers covering developing countries are particularly welcome.

(1) Concepts: We invite papers addressing politicization from a conceptual perspective. In particular, we encourage contributions addressing the overwhelmingly negative connotation of politicization. What exactly makes politicization “bad” and does this apply to all types of politicization? What are the contextual conditions under which different types of politicization have positive or negative consequences?

(2) Trends: We also invite papers addressing the (perceived) increase in politicization, linked to different aspects that have been discussed as indications of politicization, including the growth of ministerial adviser positions; a stronger influence of executive politicians on personnel decisions in the civil service (perhaps most visible in so-called “illiberal democracies”); structural changes in government organizations; the centralization and professionalization of government communication; or the ignorance and manipulation of civil service advice. What do we know empirically about those trends, are they uniform across countries, and how useful is the “politicization” umbrella to address these phenomena?

(3) Causes: We welcome paper that elaborate on the drivers of politicization. According to various observers, increasing levels of politicization result from increased media attention (24/7, social media), more complex policy problems, increasing political volatility, political polarization, new government constellations, and increased fragmentation and differentiation of the public sector. We welcome empirical papers that elaborate and test those relationships. Another prominent line of research studies variation in politicization within countries, for instance across organizations or policy sector, and we welcome elaborating on within-country variation in politicization.

(4) Consequences: A growing body of research shows that politicization has problematic consequences, for instance in terms of administrative performance, corrupt behavior, or policy substance. Most of the literature uses macro-level comparisons or is confined to the US context. We invite contributions addressing politicization effects at various levels of analysis, such as countries, organizations, and individuals (public officials, civil servants).

Published Oct. 29, 2020 1:16 PM - Last modified Oct. 29, 2020 1:26 PM