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Southern Political Science Association

The Problem of Bureaucratic Government Author(s): B. Guy Peters Source: The Journal of Politics, Vol. 43, No. 1 (Feb., 1981), pp. 56-82 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Southern Political Science Association Stable URL: Accessed: 19/02/2010 01:07
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The Problem of Bureaucratic Government

B. GuY PErrms

IT ISBY NOW almost trite to say that bureaucracyand administration are an increasingly significant - if not the most significant- feature of modern policy-making. Journalists and political candidatesof almostall political persuasions find the public bureaucracya convenient whipping boy to explain all varieties of social problems. Academic writers have been concerned with bureaucracy,although not unvaringlyopposedto its increasingimportancein policy-making. Theirapproacheshave rangedfrom the theoristsof post-industrial society who have welcomed the rational, technocratic decision-making processes of the bureaucracy as a means of saving them from a more fearsomeill - politics- to those who, like the journalists,go to great lengths to provide "proof"of the inadequaciesof bureaucraticdecision-makingin government.' Somewhere between those two extreme views has been found the majority of students of public administration,gleeful over the increasing importanceof public bureaucracy,but apprehensiveover the weaknessof their own models for explaining the policymaking role being assumed.2 Great imprecisionhas characterizedboth academic and popular attempts to analyze bureaucracy. One author has pointed to at
I For a discussionof bureaucracyin the context of post-industrial society see TimothyM. Hennessey and B. GuyPeters,"Political in Postindustrialism: Paradoxes A PoliticalEconomyPerspective," Policy StudiesJournal,3 (Spring,1975), 233-239. 2 See, for example, Dwight Waldo, ed., Public Administration in a Time of Turbulence (San Francisco:Chandler,1971); FrankMarini,ed., Towarda New Public Administration: TheMinnowbrook Perspective (SanFrancisco: Chandler,1971);Vincent Ostrom, The IntellectualCrisisin AmericanPublicAdministration (University, Alabama:Universityof AlabamaPress, 1973).




least seven different conceptions of bureaucracywhich have been used in the literature.3 Likewise, there is a schizophreniathat has characterizedmost views of bureaucracy,and its inadequacies.4 On the one hand, bureaucracyhas been seen as a Leviathan: an integrated, monolithic institution unfettered by political checks and balances, and possessingan insatiable appetite for power. On the other hand, bureaucracyis also viewed as a CourtJester:a loose collection of agencies lacking ideas, coordination, and common sense, which at best muddlesthrough, and at worst makesan absolutefool of itself.5 As Herbert Kaufmanhas pointed out,
. . . it is ironic that government workers who are often depicted as drab, 'faceless,'

timid, and obscureshouldbe called self-directing, dominantand sinister.... (They have also been describedas incompetent,bungling,lazy and stupid, and at the same time as diabolicallyclever self-seeking conspirators.)6

There is likewise a distinctionbetween talking about bureaucracyas a reified entity behaving as a monolith with a unified set of institutional values, and talking about bureaucracy,meaning moresimply just those administrativeagencies which do the majorityof the administrativework for the political executive. This paper is an attempt to look at the role of bureaucraciesin modern government, especially in governments of advanced industrialsocieties.7 If our analysiswere to cover a wider rangeof nations, it would require different and expanded analytics. We will be developing a concept of "bureaucratic government"as an Ideal Type against which to compare the nature of real world bureaucratic systems. Thus, our basic question is the extent to which public bureaucracyhas come to dominate or at least greatly influence policy-making. To some degree the answersto that question will depend upon the perspectiveof the individualansweringit, but we will attempt to develop a useful set of criteria that can be used in arrivingat the answer. However, before going on to look at this concept of "bureaucratic government," we shouldlook at the ex3Martin Albrow, Bureaucracy (London:Pall Mall, 1970).
4Anthony Downs, InsideBureaucracy (Boston:Little, Brown, 1967), 132-133.
5 Muchof this literature,such as that by Parldnson, is humorousbut yet it clearly the problemsperceivedin bureaucratic demonstrates structures. A Raging Pandemic, Edmund Janes 6 Herbert Kaufman, Fear of Bureaucracy: JamesLecture, Universityof Illinois, April 12, 1978, 22. 7 Because of the interests of the author,the majority of examples will be drawnfrom the United States, United Kingdom,Scandinaviaand France. The same analytics would be applicableto other similarsystems.



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isting literature on the role of bureaucracyin policy-makingto see both what insights are provided, and what the significant gaps are.

There is an immenseliteratureon public bureaucracyand public administration, and we will make no pretensions of thoroughly discussingthat literature within the confines of this or any other single paper. However, several subsets of that literature do have the place of bureaucracyin the special importancein understanding governanceof modern industrialsocieties. The Positive Theorists A numberof scholarshave undertakento explain the behaviorof bureaucraciesand bureaucratsusing the economic analysis of the "publicchoice"approachto politics.8Althoughthere are a number of differences among the writers using this approach, their basic orientationis that of bureaucracyas Leviathan, and as being composed of rational, maximizingactors. As Downs put it rather succinctly: "Thefundamentalpremiseof the theoryis that bureaucratic officials, like all other agents in the society, are
significantly-though not solely-motivated by their own self-

interests."9 Or Niskanengoes even further in stating,

will initialresponse maximize? An economist's ... what, if anything,do bureaucrats utility. By itselfthisis like anyoneelse, maximizes hispersonal be that the bureaucrat, not very helpful, but it does suggest that a bureaucratwill engage in purposive behavior and that there are probablysome elements in his utility other than the generalwelfare and the interestsof the State.10

While these assumptions when stated so clearly do not appear revolutionaryor even novel, when contrastedto the majorityof the literature on public bureaucracy, they do representan important departurefrom tradition. No longer is the bureaucratassumedto act sine ire et studio, but is instead assumedto be operating in a political environment. Also, the bureaucratis assumedto have in8 William A. Niskanen, Jr., Bureaucracy and Representative Government (Chicago: Aldine/Atherton, 1971); Downs, Inside Bureaucracy (Boston: Little, Government Brown, 1967); AlbertBreton, The Economic Theoryof Representative (Washington, (Chicago:Aldine, 1974);GordonTullock, The Politicsof Bureaucracy D.C.: PublicAffairsPress, 1965). 2. 9 InsideBureaucracy, 10 Bureaucracy Government,36. and Representative



terests which he or she attempts to maximize through political action. 11 These basic assumptionsfurtherlead to some importantadditional assumptionsand conclusions. The first corollaryis that bureaucratswill seek to maximizetheir own security, primarily through the inflation of the budgets and staffs of their agencies."2 A second aspect of bureaucraticbehavior predicted by the positive theoristsis that bureaucracieswill, where possible,seek to providepublic goodsand to avoid any pricingor rationing of the goods produced."3 Market mechanisms and marketable products make control of the bureaucracy easier for other political organizationswhich would seek to exertthat control. The positive theoristshave also placed substantialemphasison the weapons available to bureaucratsin pursuingtheir goals. Among these are policies themselves, information, and the support of interest groupsin the environment.'4 These assumptions,and deductions from the assumptions,concerningthe natureof bureaucracyare importantfor an understanding of public bureaucracy,and also makea good beginningtoward a conceptualizationof bureaucraticgovernment. The importantfirst step of accepting an active role for the bureaucracyin government has been made, and we begin to understandthat the motivationsof bureaucratsare not necessarily"public" service and the "public"interest. However, as interesting and important as this work has been, we are left with a one-sidedview of bureaucracy. We see it as a set of integrated agencies all striving to develop strategies for budget maximization. We do not see the professionaland almost ideological behavior of many bureaucraticactors, who do at least apparently have ideas about policy which they seek to have implemented without regard to the budgetary consequences.'5 Fur11 See, for example,MatteiDogan, "ThePoliticalPowerof WesternMandarin," in Dogan, ed., The Mandarins of WesternEurope(New York:Halstad, 1975), 3-24. 12 Downs, Inside Bureaucracy, 16-17; Niskanen,Bureaucracy and Representative Government,36-40. 13 David Bartlett,EconomicFoundations of PoliticalPower (New York:The Free Press, 1973), 66-67. 14 For an interesting discussion of the strategiesand weaponsof bureaucracy in action see J.C.H. Jones,"TheBureaucracy and PublicPolicy:CanadianForeignPolicy and the CombinesBranch,1960-1971," CanadianPublicAdministration 18 (Summer, 1975), 269-296. 15 In general, however, agency ideology and budgetaryinterests tend to conform closely. The majorthreatis that the agencywill lose credibilityby advocacyof unpopularor unfeasibleprograms.



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ther, as Wade has pointed out, the principal decision-makersin public bureaucracyhave relatively little to gain personallyby having their agenciesgrow."' They typically are at the top of the salary schedulealready, and can only acquireheadaches,not more money. Thus, while this conclusiondoes constitute a good beginning, it remainsonly that, and we must pressfurtherto understandmore fully the governmentalrole of bureaucracy. The Descriptive Theorists There have been two significantbodies of literaturedevelopedattempting to describemore completelythe attitudesand behaviorsof bureaucratsand bureaucracies. The first, generallyassociatedwith the work of RobertPutnam and his colleagues,has attemptedto explain the extent of bureaucraticinvolvement in policy-makingby the attitudesof civil servantsand the responsiveness of bureaucratic actors to political pressures.'7
This work has contrasted two polar - and perhaps Ideal - types of

bureaucratic actors. The first is the Weberian, or "classical" bureaucrat. This individual
. . . operates with the monisticconception of the publicinterest-the 'national' interest or the 'interest of the State.' He believesthat publicissuescan be resolvedin termsof some objectivestandardsof justice, or legality, or of technicalpracticality. . . the classicalbureaucrat distrusts and rejectsthe institutions of politics.... 8

This "classical"bureaucratmay be contrastedwith the "political" bureaucratwho accepts the rough-and-tumble of political life, and gladly joins in as a participant. This work has been importantin developingan understanding of the natureof contemporaryadministrative behavior,but it does not aid greatly in answeringthe questionwe have set forth: what is the nature and extent of bureaucraticinvolvement in policy-making?
16 L. L. Wade, "PublicAdministration, PublicChoiceand the Pathosof Reform," unpublished paper, Universityof California,Davis, Davis, California. 17 RobertPutnam,"ThePoliticalAttitudes of SeniorCivil Servants in Britain,Germanyand Italy,"British Journal of PoliticalScience3 (July, 1973),257-290;ThomasJ. Anton, Claes Linde and AndersMellbourn,"Bureaucrats in Politics:A Profileof the SwedishAdministrative Elite," CanadianPublic Administration 16 (Winter, 1973), 626-651; Samuel Eldersveld, Sonia Hubee-Boonzaaijer, and Jan Kooiman, "Elite Perceptions of the PoliticalProcessin the Netherlands," in Dogan, The Mandarins of

Western Europe, 129-161.


Putnam, "ThePoliticalAttitudes...," 259.



We learn a great deal about the attitudes of bureaucratstoward other policy-makers,but know very little about their interest,or advocacy of, policy. A second set of descriptive studies of bureaucracy and bureaucraticpolicymakingcomes from analyses of foreign policy, and the role of bureaucraciesin makingdefense and foreign policy. This is the literature characterizedby the "bureaucraticpolitics" paradigm.'9 Beginning with the original Allison article, this approach has argued that foreign policy decisionscould be explained as well or better from a bureaucraticpolitics perspectivethan either fromthe perspectiveof the rationalactoror the organizationalprocess.20 In many ways, this approachhas been a less rigorousversion of the positive theory approachto-bureaucraticbehavior, but with the intention to be more descriptive, and seeking to compare its resultswith traditional models of internationalpolitics and foreign policy as opposed to those of Wilsonian public administration. The bureaucratic politics approach has been rather severely criticized by scholarsof internationalrelations, particularlyrelated to its continuing state-centric assumptions in a world of interdependence.2' However, from our point of view, we must add that it apparently does not advance our understanding of the behaviorof bureaucraticagenciesbeyond the more elegant work of the positive theorists. We are provided with more descriptive evidence than is generally true for the positive approach, but still lack an understandingof the politics of bureaucracyas a potential governingbody-either in general or over foreign policy. Theoristsof Institutional Weakness The positive theorists and the descriptive theorists assume a positive political role for the bureaucracy, either as policy en'9 GrahamAllison, "Conceptual Modelsand the Cuban MissileCrisis,"American PoliticalScienceReview, 63 (September, 1969), 689-718;Essenceof Decision(Boston: Little, Brown, 1971); and MortonHalperin,"Bureaucratic Politics:A Paradigmand Some Implications," in R. Kanterand R. Allman, (eds.), Theoryand Policyin InternationalPolitics, supplementto WorldPolitics, 24 (1972), 40-79; MortonHalperin, Bureaucratic Politicsand ForeignPolicy (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1974). 20 Allison,"Conceptual Models. 21 D. Krasner,"Are Bureaucracies Important?or Allison Wonderland,"Foreign Policy, 7 (Summer,1972), 159-179;RobertArt, "Bureaucratic Politicsand American ForeignPolicy,"Policy Sciences,4 (1973), 467-490.



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trepreneuror as participantin the political process. A third body of literature stresses the weakness of the "political" institutions of government. As democratic governmentshave appeared headed and crisis, this literaturehas down the slippery slope of "overload" blossomed. There is a growing body of literature emphasizing the crisis of governmentin many Westerncountriesat this time. This work has been largely European, but some Americanproblemsand prospects are also included. The explanationsand remedies of the authors writing vary widely. Crozier, for example, attributesmuch of the problemto economic crisis and institutionaloverload.22 Rose, Bell and others have emphasizedthe effects of attributedincreasingentitlements of populations for government benefits.23 Brittan has stressedthe bidding-up of budgets by competitive political elites.24 King, LaPorte and Scharpfhave stressedthe multiple dependency relationships among political actors and the public, and the breakdowns of institutional coordination.'5 Scheuch has gone somewhat further and argued that the problems of governmental management are indicative of a more general rejection of large organization in society.26 Although varied in their approaches, these scholars all recognize the fundamental problems of current society and government, but some do see the bureaucracyas one alternative government, at least in the short-run, to provide some essential stability to the governingprocess.27 A second body of literature is more confined to the United Kingdom, and stressesthe weaknessesof traditional party govern22 MichaelCrozier,"Western Europe,"in Crozier.SamuelP. Huntingtonand Joji Watanuki, The Crisisof Democracy(New York:TrilateralCommission,1975). 23 Richard Rose, "OverloadedGovernments," European Studies Newsletter, 3 (1975); Daniel Bell, "The Public Household-on 'Fiscal Sociology'and the Liberal Society,"The Public Interest37 (1974), 29-68. 24 SamuelBrittan, "The EconomicContradictions of Democracy,"BritishJournal of PoliticalScience,5 (April, 1975), 129-159. 25 Anthony King, "Overloaded Governments," Political Studies, 23 (une/September, 1975), 284-296; Todd LaPorte, Organized Social Complexity Press,1975);FritzW. Scharpf,"PublicOrganization PrincetonUniversity (Princeton: and the Waning of the Welfare State," EuropeanJournalof Political Research,5 (December,1977), 339-362. 26 Erwin Scheuch, Wird die Bundesrepublik (Koln: ArbeitgeberverUregeirbar? 1976). band der Metallindustrie, 27 Bureaucracies are seen by many of the authorsas at least a part of the cause of alternativeto politicalleadership but some also regardit as a short-term "overload," which may be lacking.



ment models in that political system, although there are certainly broaderimplicationsfor the work. The most significant and comprehensive work of this particular genre is Rose's The Problem of Party Government.28 Rose argues that although political parties continue to fulfill some aspectsof their assignedtasks by providing competitionfor office and alternativesets of elites, they fail substantially in attempting to translate their electoral mandates into governmentalactions. These specific problemsand evidence cited by Rosecome from the United Kingdom,but the problemsalso have more general applicability.29 The complexity and sheer size of modern governmentsmakesthe tasksof any set of political elites at best difficult and at worst impossible. These weaknesses within the political decision-making institutions of governmentplace the bureaucracyin a very strong position to govern, at least indirectly.- However, the deficiencies of the bureaucracymay be as great as those of the political institutions. The majordisabilityof bureaucracyis commonlyseen to be the lack of directionfor policy. An overstatedversionof the argumentof institutional weaknessesis that if politicians have ideas, they will be prevented from implementing them, and civil servantsdo not and will not have ideas to implement. In sum, governmentis paralyzed and ineffective. These theorists of institutional weakness add somewhat to our understanding of the role of bureaucracy in government. If nothingelse, we do begin to see the void which the bureaucracymay fill, if we are not always sure that they will seek to fill it. Further, we find that some of the traditional bureaucratic virtues of organization and a concern for implementation actually provide them with significant weapons in a governmentalprocessin which those virtues are scarce commodities. However, we must go further, and inquire how we may judge the extent to which public bureaucracyis, or may be, the major guiding institutionof society. Consensus,Dissensusand BureaucraticGovernment The three approaches to the involvement of bureaucracy in governmentalleadershippresent very different pictures of that inRichardRose, The Problemof Party Government (London:Macmillan,1974). Bruce Headey, British Cabinet Ministers(London:George Allen and Unwin, 1975);EdwardMarples,"ADog'sLife in the Ministry," in RichardRose(ed.), Policymakingin Britain(London:Macmillan,1969), 128-132.
28 29




volvement. The positive theoristsand the descriptivetheoristsboth argue that bureaucracyis a positive force, although not necessarily for the commonweal or for technically elegant policies as is sometimesassumed. The theoristsof institutionalweaknessaccept to some degree the Weberian and Wilsonian conceptions of the bureaucracy,in that they argue that public bureaucratstend not to have policy ideas of their own and that they are masters only of routine and not of policy. There is some evidence that supports both conceptions of the governmentalrole and capabilitiesof the bureaucracy.30We could stack and weigh evidence on both sides of the argument, but the question would remain unresolved. Two things seem necessaryto providea more complete answerto the questionsraisedin this argument. The first is analytic and conceptual, involving the development of a more precise picture of what a bureaucraticgovernment would look like. The second task is then more fully to analyze the existing literature with this conception of a bureaucratic government firmly in mind. Again, we would not expect an abdicationby political institutionsof their rightsto bureaucrats,nor do we expect a declaration of bureaucratic government to emanate from the depths of some office building in Foggy Bottom, Whitehall, or Karlavagen. Rather, we are interested in the degree to which, given the lack of leadership alleged to be besetting traditional institutions of government and the difficulties which even skilled leaders have in managing government departments, the bureaucracyis capable of providing needed direction and leadership. This has been largely assumedby theoristsof post-industrial society, and we are now intendingto providesome directionin conceptualization, measurement,and analysis.31
30AlfredA. Diamant,"Tradition and Innovation in FrenchAdministration," ComparativePoliticalStudies,1 (July,1968),251-274;EzraSuleiman,Politics,Powerand Bureaucracy in France(Princeton: PrincetonUniversity Press,1974);BarbaraCastle, "Mandarin Power,"SundayTimes,June 10, 1973;RichardCrossman,TheDiariesof a Cabinet Minister, Vols. I-III (London:Hamish Hamilton and JohnathanCape, HaroldSeidman,Politics,Positionand Power, 3rd. ed. (New York:Ox1975-1979); ford University Press, 1980);RenateMayntzand Fritz W. Scharpf,Policy-Making in the GermanFederalBureaucracy (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1975); P. Grottian,"Zum - VorlaufigeErgebnisse Plannungsbewusstein der BonnerMinisterialburokratie einer emperische Studie," Politische Vierteiliahresschrift, Sonderheft4 (1972); Daniel Tarschys,Petita (Stockholm: Liber, 1975);BjornMolin et al., Byrakrati och Politik (Stockholm: Almqvistand Wiksell, 1973). 31 SamuelP. Huntington,"Postindustrial Politics:How BenignWill It Be?,"ComparativePolitics,6 (anuary, 1974), 163-192.





What would a "bureaucraticgovernment"look like, other than perhapsbeing uniformlygray? In other words, what criteria must be met before we would be satisfied that indeed the bureaucracy was capable of providing a viable government-meaning both policy directionand routinemanagement- for a society. There are any numberof criteriawhich might be applied, but those advanced by Rosein assessingthe ability of political partiesto providegovernment may fruitfully be adopted to serve our purposehere.32 Those criteria (as modified) are as follows: (1) They must formulate policy intentions for enactment in office. (2) These intentions must be supportedby statementsof "not unworkable"means to the ends. (3) There should be some competition over the allocation of resources. (4) They should be in sufficient numerical strength in the most importantpositions in the regime. (5) Those given office must have the skills necessaryto running a large bureaucraticorganization. (6) High priority must be given to the implementationof goals. As noted, these criteria are somewhat modified and condensedversionsof those developedfor political parties, but the damagedone to the original intentionsdoes not appear mortal. The basic idea that to governit is necessaryfor individualswith ideas about policy to be able to implement those ideas through the existing structures of government comes through even in this modified version of the model. Let us now begin to examine these several criteria separately to assessthe importanceof each for the role of bureaucracyin governance. Policy Intentions:the Agency Ideology The first criterion is one which might ordinarilybe regarded as the crucial shortcomingof public bureaucracyas a workable alternative to other forms of governance. The bureaucracyhas traditionally been regardedin most societies as lacking ideas about what to do with the machinery of government they appear to control. However, we find that bureaucraticagenciesfrequentlyhave well32

RichardRose, The Problemof Party Government.



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developedideas about what governmentshould do. These ideas are not general statements, but rather are confined to the narrow area of the expertiseof the agency. To understandbetter these ".agency ideologies" we should first differentiate them into two different categories, here labelled the "soft" and "hard" conceptions of bureaucraticideologies. The "soft"version of the agency ideology is that the existingprogram itself is a set of ideas which are favored by the bureaucracy, out of familiarityif for no other reason. Stated more positively, we may regard the ongoing program of an agency to constitute something of an agency ideology. Political executivescoming into nominalpositionsof power over bureaucraticstructureshave almost invariablyreportedovert or covert resistanceby their civil servants, and the existence of a "departmentalview" about policy which limits the effectiveness of any political leader. For example, the British Foreign Office has commonly been regarded as being proArab, and the Department of Education as being in favor of comprehensivizationof schools, so that any Ministercoming into office with different policy views would have to overcome these preexisting biases of his or her "servants."33There are few commentators on bureaucracy or executive leadership in industrialized societieswho have not commentedon the existenceof this "soft" version of a bureaucraticideology, so that if we can accept this as a minimalist version of the existence of ideas about policy in a bureaucracy,then clearly such ideas do exist. The "hard"version of the policy intention criterion is that the bureaucracymust not only be interested in administeringthe existing policies of their agencies, but they must also seek to impose a new set of policies. Given that, on average, bureaucratspersist longer than do politicians, we might expect them to be able to alter policies over time to suit themselves. However, there are a number of other sources for policy change which may affect the civil servant'sperception of what should be done. First, bureaucraciesand bureaucratsare increasingly interconnected via organizational and professional memberships, so that what bureaucratswant out of the policy processmay tend to change over time to correspondto the "best practices"of their profession. Some organizations to which bureaucratsbelong may be strictly
33See Joe Haines, The Politics of Power (London: Coronet, 1977); Maurice Kogan, The Politics of Education (London: Penguin, 1971).



"bureaucratic," i.e., concernedentirely with public sector management, while others may be groups of subject-matterspecialistsfor health, education, sanitary engineering, or whatever. In either case the bureaucracy may, through its professional contacts, generatechallengesto the existingpolicies based upon new ideas or the diffusion of policy innovations. In Europe, the existence of a number of transnationalorganizations facilitates such diffusion, and bureaucratically developed policy agendas, such as minimum standardsfor social services, illustratethe beginning of an even more significantdiffusion of standards and practices.34 This in turn may indicate an even greater role for bureaucracyas a source of policy ideas. Even without diffusion, however, bureaucrats do have policy ideas. These typically come from the increasing professional qualificationsand training of membersof the public bureaucracy. Mosher dates the rise of the "professional state" from the mid-1950s.35 This form of state organizationis characterized by the dominance of specialized professionalknowledge concentrated in bureaucraticagencies.36 The professionalsin the agencies become the sourceof new policies within their sphereof competence,having both expert knowledge and some interest in the expansionof their agencies. Those bureaucratsinterested in changing policies may have to wait a number of years before implementing their ideas, until sufficient popular and political support is developed. The movementfor Medicare,and the developmentof communitymental health programsare examples of policy changes generated within the bureaucracyand which typically requireda very long time from formulationto implementation.37
34 Specifically, the "Best Practice" doctrine of the European Communities social policy seeks to bring standards in each of the Nine up to that currently prevailing in the country with the most generous provisions. 35 Frederick C. Mosher, Democracy and the Public Service (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968), 105ff.; "Professions in the Public Service," Public Administration Review, 38 (March/April, 1978), 144-150. 36 Ibid.; Samuel H. Beer, "The Adoption of General Revenue Sharing: A Case Study in Public Sector Politics," Public Policy, 24 (Spring, 1976), 157-160; Francis E. Rourke, "Bureaucratic Autonomy and the Public Interest," American Behavioral Scientist, 22 (May/June, 1979), 537-546. 37

Theodore R. Marmor, The Politics of Medicare (Chicago: Aldine/Atherton,

1973); Henry A. Foley, Community Mental Health Programs: The Formative Process (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1975); Martha Derthick, Policymaking for Social Security (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1979), 17-37.



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Taking either conception of the bureaucraticrole in the generation of policy ideas, we would expect significantcross-nationaldifferencesin the role of bureaucracy. One sourceof these differences would be the relative independence of agencies from centralized political control. So, in the United Statesor Swedenwhere agencies (or styrelsen) have substantialindependence, and where they must compete directly for funds, we would expect greater policy advocacy than in political systems with more centralized administrative systems, e.g., those under Treasury control in the United Kingdom.38 Likewise-although Diamant's arguments would appear to refute the contention-the absence of effective political leadership would appear to allow greater bureaucratic discretionand policy advocacythan would a more stable and effective political executive.39 So, Philip Williamswrites that in France

long-range policies had been the work of officials rather than

politicians in the Third Republicas well as the Fourth. This situation was a by-product of ministerial instability; however undesirablein theory, it was preferableto no long-rangepolicies at all."40 Much the same situation is alleged to have obtained during the latter days of the Nixon administration. By way of contrast,the doctrinal emphasis on ministerial responsibility in the United Kingdommakeseven ineffectivepolitical leaderspowerful in theory if not always in practice. Thirdly, we would expect bureaucraticpersonnelsystemswhich allow individuals to remain within a single or limited number of agencies during a career would experience greater bureaucratic policy advocacy than would administrativesystemsrequiringmore diversecareerpatterns. Thus, the Scandinavian countriesin which civil servants are hired by individual agencies or ministriesrather than through centralized personnel services, or the United States where careerstend to be confined to a single department,would be more likely to have strongerpolicy advocacyby bureaucraticagencies than would the United Kingdom or France where the senior
Tarschys,Petita:Hugh Heclo and AaronWildavsky,ThePrivateGovernment of PublicMoney (Berkeley: Universityof CaliforniaPress, 1974). 31 Diamant, "Tradition and Innovation..,"; See also Suleiman,Politics, Power

and Bureaucracy in France, 160-170. 40 Philip Williams, Crisis and Compromise: Politics in the Fourth Republic (New

York:Doubleday Anchor, 1966), 365-366; See also LawrenceScheinmann,Atomic

Energy Policy in France Under the Fourth Republic (Princeton: Princeton University

Press, 1965).



civil service will have experienced a number of different types of posts, albeit within the frameworkof a grand corps in France.41 Finally, there are definite attitudinal configurationswhich appear related to policy advocacy by bureaucracy. Putnam and his associateshave uncoveredsuch attitudinal configurationsby quantitative methods, and a numberof more descriptivestudieshave indicated that such cultural and attitudinalpatternsdo exist.42 Thus,
as with any other concept

or Ideal Type - there will be variation

in the degree to which real-world cases correspondto the posited characteristics. However, there is some reason to believe that the bureaucracycan provide some policy leadershipand that they are not only the mastersof routine and paper-shuffling,but rather are frequentlyvery importantsourcesof ideas. The Availability of "Not Unworkable" Means If politicians are generally consideredthe mastersof ideas, then certainly the bureaucracyis considered the master of routine and techniques. Thus, there should be little question about the bureaucracy presenting feasible means to carry out programs, whether those programsare generatedinternally or imposed upon them by politicians. In fact, the opposite may be the case: that which is feasibleis often translatedinto policy. Thus, as with Lindblom's reconstructed preferences, bureaucrats are frequently capable of molding not only techniques but also policies by the definition of what is feasible.43 The ability to reconstruct preferences makes the bureaucratic agency as much a victim of its own proceduresas the master. The bureaucracy may be innovative, but is frequently limited by the reliance on accepted proceduresfor a definition of what can be done. Feasibilitymay be defined in terms of the ability of the program to be administeredthroughthe standardoperatingprocedures of the agency, as with Allison'sconcept of the organizationalprocess
in BrianChapman, described in careerpatternsare thoroughly 4' Thesedifferences of Government(London:Unwin UniversityBooks, 1959). Although The Profession remainsuseful. See alsoB. Guy Peters,The Politics presented dated, the information (New York:Longmans,1978). of Bureaucracy 42 Putnam, "The Political Attitudes. . .;" Anton, Linde and Mellbourn, and Kooiman,"Elite in Politics. . .;" Eldersveld,Hubee-Boonzaaijer "Bureaucrats Perceptions.. ." 43 Charles E. Lindblom, The Policy-Making Process (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall,1968), 101-108.



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model of policy-making.44 Thus, while agencies may indeed develop feasible means, these means may in turn blind both bureaucratsand politicians to the range of available policy alternatives. Bureaucracies may clearly have procedures to implementany program they may wish to but, rather than being an undivided asset, this may at times be a liability. Agenciesmay be able to implement a weak conceptionof programadvocacymentionedabove, but may be impeded in making any substantialchanges in programbecause of accepted proceduresand methodologies. Their agenda may be defined by how they are accustomedto doing business,ratherthan by what they would like to do. There is a tension, therefore, between the role of the bureaucracy as advocates of innovation in policies and their role as conserversof procedures.45 The role of bureaucracies as conservers of procedures is a variable, just as is their role as policy advocate. It variesin part as a function of traditionand culture, but is also relatedto more specific political and structuralconsiderations. One of the principalfactors related to an emphasis on procedurewould appear to be external pressuresfor control that would make administratorswary of actions not justifiable as normal procedure. In all democratic-and most non-democratic-countries there have been increased pressuresfor better control and supervisionof bureaucraticdiscretion.46 With such pressures, there is a natural tendency for bureaucratsto retreat to proceduresfor protection, with a consequent loss of innovation and flexibility. Competitionamong Agencies One criterion for governance generally associated with democratic and partisan government is competition among contenders for office. Bureaucratsalready have office, and are unlikely to lose it. What they do not have is money. Thus, while the currency of partisan competition is votes, the currency of bureaucraticcompetitionis currency. The competitionfor budgets among agencies may provide many of the same benefits at an
44 45

Allison, The Essence of Decision.

This tensionis reflectedin the "garbage can"modelof decision-making in which meansseekends, ratherthan vice versa. See MichaelD. Cohen,JamesG. Marchand Johann P. Olsen, "The Garbage Can Model of OrganizationalChoice," Administrative Science Quarterly 17 (March, 1972), 1-25. 46 Peters, The Politics of Bureaucracy, Chapter 8.



organizationallevel that partisancompetitionis assumedto provide in democraticpolitics. Just as partisancompetition allows a voter to select among alternative governments, which in turn are supposed to be related to alternativepolicies, bureaucraticcompetition allows political and administrativepersonnel to choose more directly among alternative policies.47 This competition is frequently

conducted without direct political intervention, as with many decisions on spending within the BritishTreasury,or within Ministries of Finance in many countries.48 There is substantialdisagreementamong analystsof bureaucracy as to both the nature and efficacy of this competition among agencies. Somearguethat the conflict is intense and pervasive,with the Others principalintention being to maximizethe agency'sbudget.49 have argued that the competition is less frequent and more restrained, seekingto preservea "fairshare"for the agency and even seeking cooperation in dividing the available budget pie.50 Some would argue, in fact, that agencies will frequently avoid conflict and agency growth if that growth may threatentheir basic purpose and perhapsexposeweaknessesin their existingprograms.5' In addition, Downs among others has argued that competition among bureaucracies,just as with industriesin the model of the free market economy, is a positive force encouragingpolicy innovation and also servingas a check on bureaucraticautonomy.52 In any of the above conceptions, however, competition among agencies does have a place as a means of allocating resourcesamong competing policies and thus allowing some to flourish, and some to languishor, less frequently, to die.53 No matter what the stakesof bureaucraticcompetitionmay be, it
47Breton also notes that competitionis moved from a public arena to a private Government,162-163. arena. The EconomicTheoryof Representative 48 Ibid.; Heclo and Wildavsky,The PrivateGovernment.. ., 76-128. 41 Niskanenarguesthat such competitionshould be expandedto providea quasiof publicbureaucracies. improvethe performance marketfor servicesand (hopefully) William A. Niskanen, "Competition among Government Agencies," American BehavioralScientist,22 (May/June,1979), 517-524. 50 Robert PublicChoice21 E. Goodin,"TheLogicof Bureaucratic Backscratching," (1975), 53-68. 51 Matthew Holden, "Imperialism AmericanPolitical Science and Bureaucracy," Review, 60 (December,1966), 943-951. 52 Downs, InsideBureaucracy, 198-199. 53 Few do die, as shown in HerbertKaufman,Are Government ImOrganizations Institution,1975). D.C.: The Brookings mortal?(Washington,



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will occur in differentdegreesin differentbureaucraticsystems.The structure of some systems, e.g., the United States and Sweden, allows more latitude for bureaucraticcompetition and bargaining than is true in morecentrallymanagedadministrative systems. The existence of agencies with low levels of coordination, other than through the budgetaryprocess, and the ability of agenciesto argue for their own appropriations(at least indirectly), and to mobilize political support, makes competition a more important part of the lives of the agencies.54 It also meansthat they will be more capable of providing an alternativeform of governmentthan will agencies more constrained by central political and administrativecontrol. Thus, bureaucraticcompetitionseems to go hand-in-handwith the "hard"conception of policy advocacy, if for no other reason than policy and one means throughwhich the competitionis conducted. The nature of bureaucraticcompetitionhas two principaleffects on politics and government. First, it may in part account for some of the massive growth of the size of government - as reflected in public spending- over the past several decades.55 Old programs become institutionalizedas commitmentsof governments - and entitlementsfor citizens- and the need to compete for increasedfunding produces new programsand new policies from the agencies.56 Some authors have argued exactly the opposite- that in fact competition among agencieswould decreasethe size of government,but that analysisseemsseverelyto underestimate both the persistenceof agencies and their ability to limit the scope of competitionto areas outside their "heartlands."57 So long as there is competitionfor increasing expenditures,there will apparentlybe an increasinglybig government, regardlessof the preferencesof citizens. This growth may, however, be favored by politicians because it provides them more benefits to distributeamong constituents,and thus create the image of someone who can deliver for the folks back home.58
54 Tarschys,Petita; Seidman,Politics,Powerand Position, 162-165. This may be importanteven in morecentralizedsystems. See J. J. Richardson and A. G. Jordon, GoverningUnderPressure(London:MartinRobertson,1979), 53-59. 55 RichardRoseand Guy Peters,Can Government Go Bankrupt? (New York:Basic Books, 1978). 56 Daniel Bell, "ThePublic Household...," 39. 57 Downs, InsideBureaucracy, 211-216. 58 Morris Fiorina, Congress:Keystone of the WashingtonEstablishment(New Haven: Yale UniversityPress, 1978); See also Douglas Arnold, Congressand the Bureaucracy (New Haven: Yale UniversityPress, 1979).



The second major effect of bureaucraticcompetition is that it limits the internalconsistencyor "coherence" of government.59 The bureaucracydoes not act as an integrated instrumentto serve the public interest, but ratheracts as a set of subgovernments each serving a clientele groupcrucial in the political game of survival. These "whirlpools,""subgovernments" or "irontriangles"are a dominant characteristicof government.60 In other words, with highly competitive agencies, there may be bureaucraticgovernments,but no bureaucraticgovernment. Or as Natchez and Buppput it, "Priority setting in the Federal bureaucracy resembles nineteenth century capitalism: prioritiesare establishedby aggressiveentrepreneurs at the operating levels of government."61 The Incumbencyof Positions Anothernecessarycriterionfor the ability of bureaucracies to provide an alternative source of governmentis that they must occupy the most important positions in policy-making, and further, they must be in sufficientnumbersto maketheir decisionseffective. The bureaucracyclearly satisfiesthe quantitativeaspectof this criterion, even though, as we will point out later, we can ensurethat those in the lower echelons of the bureaucracywill always comply with the directives of their superiors. However, the bureaucracymay not appear to satisfy the qualitative aspect of the criterion. Politicians are traditionally thought to be in the most important positions in policy-making,and the bureaucratsonly in a positionto implement their decisions. There are two points, however, which qualify the traditional
5' Samuel H. Beer, "PoliticalOverloadand Federalism," in Victoria Schuckand JosephineMilburn, (eds.), New England Politics (Cambridge,Mass.: Schenkman, forthcoming). ? While usuallyconceivedof in the American context,e.g., J. LeiperFreeman,The PoliticalProcess(New York:RandomHouse, 1955), the growth of corporatism and cooptation in most smaller European countriesmay be conceived of as a similar phenomenon. See Martin0. Heislerand Ole P. Kristensen, "TheMixedPolityin the Welfare State: Corporate Pluralist Politics in Scandinavia in Comparative Perspective,"paper presented to 1979 Annual Meeting of the SouthernPolitical "The ScienceAssociation, Gatlinburg,Tennessee,November,1979;Ole P. Kristensen, Logic of Political-Bureaucratic Decision-Makingas a Cause of Governmental Growth," paper presented to the SandbergDanish Political Science Association, March, 1979. "1PeterB. Natchezand IrvingC. Bupp,"Policy Procand Priority in the Budgetary ess,"AmericanPoliticalScienceReview, 67 (September,1973), 963.



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assumption. First, the contact of the bureaucracy with the environ-

ment of the organization, as well as the concentrationof technical expertise in the lower echelons of organizations, tends to give bureaucraciesa substantialcontrol over information and expertise which are crucial for policy-making. Thompson'sanalysis of the separation of expertise and authority in modern organizations is most important here, and the ability to control information is a major influence over policy in the hands of the bureaucrat.62 Further, to the extent to which information is passed through the bureaucratichierarchy, it is selectively distorted. Thus, although - and perhapsa few there may be enough people in the bureaucracy extra-there may still be an imbalancebetween those making decisions at the top and those with the informationfor makingthe decisions at the bottom.63 Political institutionshave been attemptingto breakthe monopoly on informationwhich the bureaucracyappearsto hold by creating their own independent sources of information. These "counter bureaucracies" are most numerousin the United States-for example, the agencies of the Executive Office of the President,the CongressionalBudget Office, and the growingcommittee staffs of Congress-but also exist in a numberof other political systems.64 Some have sought to provide this information through ministerial cabinets, while others have establishedresearchoffices such as the CentralPolicy Review Staff in Britain.65 Still othershave tried unsuccessfullyto use their political parties as instrumentsfor policy research.66 Despite these efforts, the bureaucracyretains a central role in the developmentand disseminationof policy relevant information, and thereby retains a powerful position in policy-making.
Victor Thompson,ModernOrganizations (New York:Knopf, 1961). GordonTullock, The Politicsof Bureaucracy (Washington, D.C.: PublicAffairs Press,1965), 137-141. " ThomasE. Cronin, "The Swelling of the Presidency," SaturdayReview of Society, 20 Uanuary,1973),30-36;AllenSchick,"TheBattleof the Budget," in HenryC. Mansfield,Jr., CongressAgainst the President(New York:Praeger, 1975), 64-69; MichaelJ. Malbinand M. A. Scalley,"OurUnelectedRepresentatives," ThePublicInterest,47 (Spring,1977), 16-48. 65 Suleiman, Politics, Power and Bureaucracy.. ., 201-238; Hugo Van Hassel, "BelgianMinisterialCabinets,"Res Publica 15 (1973), 357-369;"BelgianCivil Servants and PoliticalDecisionMaking," in Dogan, The Mandarins..., 187-195;Heclo
62 63

and Wildavsky, The Private Government. . ., 304-339.

66 See the speech by Shadow Industry MinisterJohn Silkin, The Guardian, 5 (December,1979), 4.



A second factor in assessing the relative importance of bureaucraticand political positions in policy-makingconcerns the importanceof implementationin defining policy. It can easily be arguedthat "policy"is what happensratherthan what it says in the legislation. Many public programs allow a substantial degree of latitude for the implementorsof policy, e.g., in police work or in defining eligibility for social programs,and thus the lower echelons of the bureaucracymay be as importantas those in "policy-making

of policy.67 in definingthe realities positions"

Finally, the bureaucracy retains one principal advantage in a strugglefor power and policy - it is simply so numerous. The sheer immensity of the task of controlling a large, growing and complex public bureaucracypossessingsubstantial expertise may defeat all but the hardiestpolitician. Even in the United States, which has a much larger than average number of political appointees who attempt to exercisethis control, the size of the bureaucracyand its relationship to important political forces makes control difficult. In sum, bureaucratsmay occupy the most importantpositionsin government simply because they occupy more positions than anyone else. They almost certainly will not agree on all aspects of the agency program, but they will agree that the program-and their jobs-should continue. As with competition among agencies, the effects of this characteristicof bureaucraticpolitics is to divide government and give each agency a part of it. The Possessionof ManagerialSkills Political leaders frequently have been shown to be lacking in the skills necessaryto manage large complex organizationssuch as the public bureaucracy.68 It is assumedthat the bureaucratswho occupy those organizationswill have the skills, if for no other reason than they do seem to manage the organizationson a day-to-day basis. So, just as with their comments on attempting to change policies, politicians coming into office may find that the organizations of which they are nominallyin chargetend to run on their own with little direction from above.

Kenneth Culp Davis, et al., Discretionary Justice in Europe and America (UrRichard Rose, The Problem of Party Government; Bruce Headey, British Cabinet

bana, Ill.: Universityof IllinoisPress, 1976.)


Ministers(London:Allen and Unwin, 1975);B. Chenot, Etre Ministere(Paris:Plon,

1967); Hugh Heclo, A Government of Strangers.



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When compared to some absolute scale, rather than to the abilities of the politicians, the skills of the bureaucratsmay not appear so overwhelming. In fact, many of the standardcomplaints against bureaucracy, and more specifically public bureaucracy, concern their internal managerial dysfunctions. Discussions of rigidity, "red-tape,"displacementof goals, and general inefficiency have filled the literature on bureaucracy. We therefore must be seriouslyconcerned if these internal problemswithin bureaucracy are not sufficiently great to limit the ability of bureaucracyto provide effective governance when conventional political institutions also prove themselvesineffective. of the public bureaucracy,and the lack of any The "publicness" readily measurableoutputs, both contributeto these difficulties. Being public, these organizationsmust be more concerned about the adherence to norms, procedures, etc. than are private organizations. They are responsiblefor public money and act in the name of the people and must therefore be accountable to the public. Accountability, in turn, may force the bureaucratto protect himself against possible complaints, and this protection comes through adherence to rules and procedures.89 This protection is as important when dealing with superiorsas it is when dealing with clients, so that policy leadership from the top may be thwarted by bureaucraticrigiditiesand procedureswithin the organization.The best preparedpolicy innovationswill fail if the administrators implementing these innovationsare more concerned about their own protection than about implementation. These general problemsof control are exaggeratedby the lack of any measurableoutputin public bureaucracies.70The majormeans of evaluatingthe successof public bureaucracies is consumptionand not production. Therefore,lackinga measurement such as profit to assess whether or not the organization is functioning effectively, managersare forced to use rules, regulationsand hierarchicalcontrol more than would be the case in other types of organizations. What is attained, however, is as often non-functioningthan smooth functioning. The degree to which internal managerial dysfunctions beset
MichaelCrozier, The Bureaucratic Phenomenon,213-220. The measurementof outputs of the public sector has become somethingof a search for the philosopher's stone. For a classic discussionsee Ludwig von Mises, Bureaucracy (New Haven: Yale UniversityPress,1972).




public bureaucracyis a function of many factors. Some are purely organizational, while others appear related to cross-nationaldifferences in conceptions of authority and hierarchical control.7' While many of the dysfunctionsare universal,they are particularly apparentwhen there is a resistanceto impersonalauthority, where the costs of sanctionsare high to the individual, and where there is little peer protection against authority. These relationships are now being examinedmore systematically,but the generalfinding is that the internaldynamicsof organizationsmay be a limiting factor in the ability of bureaucraciesto provide direction to society. Finally, one of the truismsabout moderngovernmentis that there is increasing interdependenceof the public and private sectors.72 Not only does policy have to come down from above, it must be cleared below. This fact puts bureaucratsin a strategicposition as the linkage between the public and the private sectors, but also makestheir tasksthat much more difficult. Not only must there be compliance within the organization, but compliance in society is now required,with many more built-in "clearancepoints."73 Thus while bureaucratsoccupy key positions, governmentand management are no longer as simple as they once were, or as it appearson organizationcharts. A High Priority Given to the Implementationof Policy within the Bureaucracy We have already been discussing the problems of internal management within public organizations.There are a number of problemswith communicationswhich block the smooth flow of information upward, and problemsof internal rigiditiesblocking the smooth flow of authority downward. This sixth criterion is more directly concernedwith the translationof decisionsmade at the top of the organization into effective policy. To a great extent the "real"policy of government is that policy which is implemented, rather than that policy which is adopted by the legislature of the
71 See, for example, Michael Crozier, The Bureaucratic Phenomenon (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), 210-264; On ne change pas la societe par decret (Paris: Grasset, 1979), 81-110. 72 B. Guy Peters and Martin 0. Heisler, "The Growth of Government: What is Growing, Why, How and How Do We Know?," unpublished paper, Tulane University, January, 1980. 73 King, "Overloaded Governments," 293.



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in day-to-day upper echelons of the bureaucracy. Administrators contact with citizenswho actually dispenseservicesand decide upon
eligibility-social case workers, clerks, teachers, policemen-may

be as important in molding policy as those who are commonly thought of as being in policy-making positions. These clienton them- from clients, contact level employeesoften have pressures supervisors,and perhapsmost importantlyfrom peers-that inhibit their ability to conformto the stated policiesof the organization. A numberof studieshave documentedthe existenceof these pressures, and ensuring compliance and effective implementation remains a central administrative problem.74 It should be noted that this perspectiveof the discretion available to lower echelon workersto some degree conflicts with our earlier discussionof domination by procedure and "red tape." However, what is often found is compliance with the form of policies and regulationsbut avoidance of the substanceof those policies. A significantportion of this failure of implementationcan be explained by political factors rather than organizationalfactors. As an administratorfinds himself or herself farther and farther from the centerof organizationalpower, there is a loss of political support becomesmoresubject and policy reinforcement. The administrator to political pressuresfrom outside their organization,if for no other reason than that these pressuresare more relevant and more immediate than those from the home office. Kaufman'snow classic on study of the U.S. ForestServiceis a case in point of local pressures a field officer.75 Pressmanand Wildavsky'sstudy of implementacontext, as do tion illustratesthis problem in an intergovernmental the problems of ensuring compliance in the decentralized administrative structure of West Germany.76 Even the haughty French prefet must negotiate and attempt to co-opt local political
74 See Dietrich Garlichs and Chris Hull, "Central Control and Information Dependence: Highway Planning in the Federal Republic of Germany," in Kenneth Hanf and Fritz W. Scharpf, Interorganizational Policy Making (London: Sage, 1978), 143-166. 75 Herbert Kaufman, The Forest Ranger (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1960), 75-80. 78 Jeffrey L. Pressman and Aaron Wildavsky, Implementation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973); Garlichs and Hull, "Central Control"; Kenneth Hanf, "Administrative Developments in East and West Germany: Stirrings of Reform," Political Studies, 21 (1973), 35-44; Neville Johnson, Federalism and Decentralization in the Federal Republic of Germany (London: HMSO, 1973).



forces in order to govern his territorysuccessfully.77 The necessity of mobilizing local political support for policy, and its attendant need to bargain away some policy intentionsof the central government, may be a fundamentalpart of the policy process. However, as Pressmanand Wildavskypoint out, it is perhapsthe one area of the policy process about which we have the least reliable information.78 Given this paucity of information, we are somewhat lacking in the ability to develop reliable hypotheses concerning sources of variation. One very plausible hypothesisis that in administrative systemswhich are highly decentralized,with West Germanyas the most obvious example, there will be greaterdifficulties in ensuring proper implementation throughout the hierarchy. Likewise, we would hypothesize that the degree of sectionalism and local autonomywould be related to failuresof implementation,as would the ability of political leaders with strong sectional power bases to place pressureson bureaucraciesfor special considerations.79Also, the degree of vertical separationof the client-contactlevel from the center of the organization may also make it more likely-and necessary- that lower echelon workersbargainmore with local and client interests. Finally, the lack of political support for an in the organization,as with the independentregulatorycommissions United States, may make it crucial for organizations to develop operative policies very different from the intended policies. In addition to the pull of clients and geographicalinterests,there are other factorswithin public bureaucracies which limit their effective implementationof policies. The organizationalfactors affecting implementation have been well documented in a number of studies.80 More importantly, as we outlined in the discussionof agency ideologies, organizationsmay have goals of their own, and consequently may not accept the goals of their nominal political

77 Jean-Pierre Worms, "Le Prefet et ses notables," Sociologie du Travail, 3 (1966), 149-175. 78 79


See Basil Chubb, "Going Around Persecuting Bureaucrats: The Role of the Irish Parliamentary Representative," Political Studies, 11 (1963), pp. 272-286; Allan Kornberg and William Mishler, Influence in Parliament: Canada (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1976), 191ff. 80 See especially Chris Hood, The Limits of Administration (New York: Wiley, 1976).



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masters. Oppositionto the ideas and policies of politiciansis rarely overt, as this might violate the fundamentalrelationshipsbetween elective and permanentofficials in government. More commonly, bureaucratsdefeat politicians by obfuscation, delay and the use of rules, regulations and procedures.8' Politicians, being short-term occupantsof their positions, rarelyunderstandeither the procedural mechanismsor the substanceof policy as well as their nominal servants, and consequently are frequently at the mercy of civil servants. They are particularly at the mercy of their civil servants when the policy in questionfalls amongseveraldepartments,so that
the policy is the result of the ". . . groups of officials in the thousands

of interdepartmentalmeetings, luncheons, and telephone calls that take place every day."82 An interorganizationalnetwork exists in government,both among departmentsand among levels of government, and an individual needs substantiallength of servicein order to learn the networkand how to get what he or she wants out of it.83 Civil servantshave that longevity, while politicians rarely do. We should not count politicians out too readily, however, and politicians have developed a number of mechanismsto attempt to restoretheir control over the structuresand policies of government, increasinglyconsideredto be dominatedby bureaucracy. We have already mentioned the use of ministerial cabinets in France and Belgium, as well as the role of the CentralPolicy Review Staff in the United Kingdom. Also, there is an increasinguse of political appointees in positionsin which they were previouslyinfrequent. Mrs. Thatcher has placed several appointeesinto the Treasury,while in Sweden appointees have become more common in the central ministries.84 In West Germanythere has been a long tradition of patronageappointmentsat the local governmentlevel to ensurethe of bureaucracies responsiveness to elected officials, and the development of "matrixorganizations" in the Bund ministrieshas been, in

81 Leslie Chapman, Your Disobedient Servant (Harmondsworth, England: Penguin, 1978). 82 Dudley Sears, "The Structure of Power,"in Hugh Thomas, (ed.), Crisisin the Civil Service(London:AnthonyBlond, 1968). 83 See the work in Hanf and Scharpf,Interorganizational Policy-Making. 84 As a parody on practice in the Soviet Union, these officials are referredto as politruker. See Neil Elder, "The Functionsof the ModernState,"in JackHayward and R. N. Berki,Stateand Societyin Contemporary Europe(New York:St. Martin's, 1979), 66.



part, an attempt to improve control over these organizations since it was so difficult to exercise control over Land administrations.85 Implementation remains perhaps the central problem in contemporary democracies. Breakdowns of implementation represent a fundamental failure of those systems to transform political ideas into effective action. Bureaucracies are a central cause of this failure, although usually not from malice but more from the rigidities built into their structures, or from their sincere belief in the policies they are already pursuing.

We have been exploring the question of the ability of bureaucratic institutions to provide government -a set of coherent policy intentions and the implementation of those intentions - for modern societies. Our findings, or rather analysis, is that although bureaucracy may be able to go some distance in providing such leadership, it is also thwarted by many of the same problems which appear to hinder politicians seeking to exercise governance. Those whose primary concern is democratic politics and popular control of government may welcome this analysis initially, but upon reflection may be chastened. What this analysis indicates is that there are difficulties in public management and government in industrial societies which are more basic than the short-term political and economic forces usually cited as the causes of current problems. The problems - termed "overload" in much of the European literature - appear to be more fundamental and deep-seated. They have to do with the loss of confidence of citizens, the decline of obedience and quiescence, the exhaustion of budgetary appeals to citizens by politicians, and, last but not least, the machinery of government itself. As we have been discussing throughout, the sheer bulk and inertia of bureaucracy, combined with its need for external political support from clientele groups, tends to fragment control and divert attention from problems of governance to problems of organizational survival. The political life and, to some extent, the values of bureaucratic agencies are tied up in questions of
85 Renate Mayntz and Fritz W. Scharpf, Policy-Making in the German Federal Bureaucracy (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1975), 63-78. George Otte, "The Political Role of the German Municipal Bureaucracy," paper presented at 1979 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C., September, 1979.



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organizationalsurvival. Therefore, they are almost inherently incapable of consideringbroad allocative and governance questions for the society. Therefore, to the extent that bureaucraciesappear to be gaining in influence over policy and government,a nation will have many governments,but no government. Thus, government by bureaucracyis a problem. Bureaucracy may be capable of supplying government,but unlike political parconsensus,"governties which supply governmentby "directionless ment supplied by bureaucracy may be government by "nonconsensualdirections." The governmentsuppliedwill not go in any single direction, but in many dependent upon the agency and its relationship to its clientele. For the same reason it will be nonconsensual and incoherent government. There would be no integrating ideology or philosophy, only a set of specific ideologies about specific policy problems, These ideologies, rather than integrating the activities of governmenttend to fragmentgovernment and render it a set of competing, or at least not co-operating, fiefdoms. Bureaucraticgovernmentis a threat to those who see the central position of bureaucracy in modern policy-making as a threat to traditionaldemocraticvalues. It is also a threat to those who desire an effective governmentas, if not a requisitefor democracy,at least a confederate of stable democracy. We have in this one paper, merely exploredthe dimensionsof the problemswithout attempting to provide any definitive solution to them. The search for these solutions should be a high priority for students of politics and bureaucracy, as well as for those who practice the arts of government.