Public Administration

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Public Administration, founded in 1922, is a major refereed journal with global circulation and global coverage. The journal publishes articles on all facets of public administration, public policy and public management. The editors are especially interested in papers that deal with major administrative challenges that generate theoretical advances and provide substantive insights.

Latest documents

  • How limited representativeness weakens throughput legitimacy in the EU: The example of interest groups

    Are the interest groups (IGs) that constitute European umbrella organizations capable of cooperating in a way that contributes to the throughput legitimacy of the EU? To answer this question, the representativeness of supranational actors is developed as the central criteria of throughput legitimacy, thereby reconfiguring throughput legitimacy as a two‐level concept. Representativeness is operationalized as consisting of regular contacts between the constituent and the umbrella organization as well as the satisfaction of the former with the representation by the latter. The article looks empirically at agricultural, environmental and anti‐poverty groups. Whereas there are different degrees of contact depending on the policy area, the satisfaction with the representation by the umbrella is compromised for all three IGs. This is closely linked to lowest common denominator policies which reduce the representativeness of the umbrellas and therefore the throughput legitimacy of the EU, a problem that also exists for other actors of supranational governance.

  • Regulating lobbying through voluntary transparency clubs: The connoisseurs’ assessment. Evidence from the European Union

    Regulating private actors’ participation in policy‐making is key to democratic governance. Across political systems, targeted transparency is used to regulate lobbying activities. We examine the extent to which primary regulatory targets (organizations with frequent access to policy‐makers) support the architecture of lobbying regulation regimes set up as voluntary transparency clubs. Our empirical testing ground is the European Union. We conceptualize the EU Transparency Register as a Voluntary Transparency Club, elaborate on its club goods, and derive a set of theoretical expectations about its members’ evaluations of the club's transparency standards, membership size, and monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. We find significant differences between members’ and non‐members’ assessment regarding the regulatory performance of this transparency club. Members with frequent access to executive policy‐makers criticize the club's transparency standards and do not consider the Register a useful regulatory instrument. Yet, they support expanding its regulatory remit and increasing the club membership.

  • The policy state: An American predicament Karen Orren and Stephen Skowronek, Harvard University Press, 2017, 272 pp., (pbk, 2019), £12.95, ISBN: 9780674237872
  • The partisan–professional dichotomy revisited: Politicization and decision‐making of senior civil servants

    Politicization has an ambivalent reputation among public administration scholars. While considered an effective instrument to safeguard political control over ministerial bureaucracy, partisanship of senior civil servants is likewise associated with patronage and is deemed detrimental to professionalism and meritocracy. To scrutinize this contradiction, the article examines how the party‐political background of senior civil servants influences their decision‐making behaviour. Two theoretically derived conceptions of loyalty are therefore put to the test: responsiveness and responsibility. Effects are captured by using the vignette technique in 40 in‐depth interviews with former senior civil servants from ministerial departments at federal and state level in Germany. The results are surprising in so far as they reveal that politicized senior civil servants act neither more responsively nor less responsibly than their non‐politicized peers. These findings challenge common assumptions and call for a more refined analysis of the conditions under which politicization leads to negative effects.

  • Navigating the dichotomy: The top public servant's craft

    How in their day‐to‐day practices do top public servants straddle the politics–administration dichotomy (PAD), which tells them to serve and yet influence their ministers at the same time? To examine this, we discuss how three informal ‘rules of the game’ govern day‐to‐day political–administrative interactions in the Dutch core executive: mutual respect, discretionary space, and reciprocal loyalty. Drawing from 31 hours of elite‐interviews with one particular (authoritative) top public servant, who served multiple prime ministers, and supplementary interviews with his (former) ministers and co‐workers, we illustrate the top public servants’ craft of responsively and yet astutely straddling the ambiguous boundaries between ‘politics’ and ‘administration’. We argue that if PAD‐driven scholarship on elite administrative work is to remain relevant, it has to come to terms with the boundary‐blurring impacts of temporal interactions, the emergence of ‘hybrid’ ministerial advisers, and the ‘thickening’ of accountability regimes that affects both politicians and public servants.

  • Between cheap talk and epistocracy: The logic of interest group access in the European Parliament's committee hearings

    Improving policy deliberation is a central objective for the European Union's institutions. Focusing on the European Parliament's committee hearings as an understudied area of European governance, we aim to understand their role, and their capacity to improve its procedural legitimacy. Building on theoretical work on interest group access and deliberation we argue that hearings can serve three purposes: (i) coordinative; (ii) epistemic; (iii) enhancing public participation. We construct a set of measures and assess an entire population of participants in hearings (2009–14), concentrating on three committees. Our analyses show that hearings serve a hybrid purpose between coordinative and epistemic. At the top end, we observe a core group of gatekeepers representing the dominant constituencies. Simultaneously, research organizations are granted unique access as experts that de‐politicize debates. Theoretically, we contribute to discussions on interest group access while providing an innovative set of tools for its measurement, and the first dataset of its kind.

  • Clientelism, capitalism, and democracy: The rise of programmatic politics in the United States and Britain Didi Kuo, Cambridge University Press, 2018, 163 pp., £75 (hb), ISBN: 978‐1108426084
  • The limits of proceduralism: Critical remarks on the rise of ‘throughput legitimacy’

    ‘Throughput legitimacy’ is among the most successful conceptual innovations that scholars of public policy and administration have produced in recent years. I argue that this new understanding of legitimacy needs to be seen in the context of an increasing proceduralism in political science and public administration. Throughput legitimacy attracted so much attention because it is the perfect normative companion to the analytical concept of governance. Governance is procedure, and throughput legitimacy tells us what good procedures are. In my critical discussion of this innovation I examine the analytical value of the concept, as well as its normative and practical implications. I argue that, regarding concept formation, throughput legitimacy may enrich existing typologies of legitimacy but at the same time has a severe problem of fuzzy borders. Politically, throughput legitimacy lends itself to apologetic uses when it is applied as a tailor‐made normative standard for technocratic, non‐majoritarian institutions.

  • How politicians use performance information in a budgetary context: New insights from the central government level

    This article looks at performance information use by legislators at the central level in a budgetary context. The multi‐method approach (interviews, quantitative and qualitative analysis of plenary speeches given during budget readings) allows us to draw a broader picture of the use of performance information. The findings provide new insights into different purposes of performance information use. We identify four general use types, that is, de‐legitimizing, legitimizing, improving and understanding, and deflecting, which together with the subjects addressed blend into different use purposes. Second, the study sheds light onto different factors affecting performance information use, that is, the attributes of users of performance information, the properties of performance, and the role of institutional support.

  • The circulation of public officials in a fragmented system: Urban governance networks in Paris

    Fragmentation and specialization—two characteristics of governance—have increased the number and variety of actors involved in the governing process, which can influence policy outcomes and legitimacy. To date, studies on governance or policy networks usually focus on one policy field and one moment in time. In this article, we analyse the dynamic aspect, thus how governance networks change over time, and examine whether the fragmentation and specialization of the governance system is mirrored in the circulation of public officials. Our case is the urban governance system of the Paris region, which is characterized by high fragmentation along policy fields and territory. The data show that Paris is governed by three sub‐systems that largely correspond to the different territorial levels of governance, but also to different types of organizations. Generally, territorial fragmentation seems to be stronger than policy field fragmentation. This structure is quite stable across time.

Featured documents

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