The Changing Roles of Politicians and Public Servants

Authored by: Robert P. Shepherd , Christopher Stoney , Lori Turnbull

The Routledge Handbook of Global Public Policy and Administration

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138845220
eBook ISBN: 9781315710020
Adobe ISBN: 9781317487708


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It is increasingly argued in the literature that public services in Western democracies have become more responsive and even politicized in recent decades (Savoie 2008, 2010; Sausman and Locke 2004; Peters and Pierre 2004; Norman 2003; Dwivedi and Gow 1999). Public servants, it is claimed, must now as a matter of their regular responsibilities to superiors and political masters pay greater attention to the political implications of their work than ever before. Likewise, politicians are exerting more pressure on public bureaucracies to support partisan and political preferences through the creation of external policy advisory committees, use of external consultants and task forces, independent advisors and lobbyists (Savoie 2010: 158–160). From this perspective, public services are regarded as obstacles to the preferences of political parties attempting to effect change, in essence miring progress in red tape or the long view. Although some scholars attribute these changes to New Public Management, and getting government out of the way of economic progress, this argument does not explain fully the purported shifts in human resource processes, regulatory systems, internal management and control structures, and oversight and accountability systems, to name a few aspects of public administration.

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