170328 Weberian state structures and bureaucratic behaviour: evidence from survey experiments with public servants

28 Mars, 2017 - 12:30 - 14:30


Tuesday 28 March 2017 - 12.30 - 2.30 pm - Sciences Po - Room Goguel - 56, rue des Saints-Pères (Entrance through the 27 rue Saint-Guillaume) - 75007 Paris

The study of representation is central to political science. Numerous works have assessed whether elected officials share the ideological preferences of citizens and produce policies that accord with citizen interests. Yet, why bureaucrats share the ideological preferences of citizens in some countries, yet not others has not been paid attention to. This is an important omission. Bureaucrats have discretion in policy formulation and implementation. Whether they share the ideological preferences of citizens thus matters for whether policies reflect citizen interests. Drawing on multi-level analyses of WVS, CSES and ESS data, our paper is the first to shed light on the determinants of this variation in ideological congruence between citizens and bureaucrats. We find that bureaucrats are more left-leaning than citizens in countries that are richer and have a longer legacy of left-party rule – even after controlling for current governing party ideology and a series of other country controls. This suggests that parties continue to shape policy outcomes through ideologically aligned bureaucrats long after electoral defeat. This finding has important implications for our understanding of public policy, political control and political representation, and underscores more broadly the utility of studying variation in ideological congruence between citizens and bureaucrats.

Christian Schuster is Assistant Professor in Public Management at the School of Public Policy, University College London (UCL). He studies civil services and bureaucratic reform, drawing on survey data, experiments and elite interviews. He was previously the LSE Fellow in Political Science and Public Policy at the London School of Economics (LSE), a Visiting Scholar at Sciences Po, cee, a Visiting Scholar with the Inter-American Development Bank and an Economist with the World Bank. He obtained his PhD in Government from the LSE.

Philippe Bezes Sciences Po, CEE, CNRS
Clément Claret, Sciences Po, CEE

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