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Organizing Leviathan. How the relationship between politicians and bureaucrats shapes good government

Wednesday May 3, 2017, at 16:00 AM
Room 24.104 - Mercè Rodoreda Building (1st Floor)

Why some governments are more effective and less corrupt than others? Our book builds on insights from classical public administration scholars, such as Woodrow Wilson or Max Weber, who considered that the organization of relations between politicians and bureaucrats was essential for understanding successes or failures of governments. We argue that the critical feature is the extent to which the professional careers of politicians and bureaucrats are separated or, the opposite, integrated in a single chain of accountability. In particular, when the careers of politicians and bureaucrats are separated, two independent channels of accountability – one based on political considerations, the other on peer review mechanisms – emerge. This separation forms an embedded and mutual control function in government institutions, which in turn prevents rent-seeking collusion among officials and fosters government effectiveness. We thus suggest that governments where politicians do not become administrators – and, vice versa, bureaucrats do not become politicians – will perform better than governments where the careers of politicians and bureaucrats are intertwined. The book offers large-N cross-country analyses and numerous empirical illustrations indicating that a separation of politicians´ and bureaucrats´ careers generates governments that are, first, less corrupt; second, more effective; and, third, more innovative.

Victor Lapuente is a Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science and a Research Fellow at the Quality of Government Institute (QoG Institute), University of Gothenburg. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Oxford and the Juan March Institute (Madrid) and joined the QoG Institute in 2007. Lapuente's research deals mostly with comparative public administration and corruption. Why do some countries build up autonomous “Weberian” administrations? Do some political regimes produce administrations with higher quality of government and lower levels of corruption than others? Why some countries adopt New Public Management reforms? Other research interests include the impact of separation of powers on economic policy making and financial markets: do systems with mechanisms of separation of powers produce different economic policies or affect financial markets in a systematic manner? Under which circumstances separation of powers leads to economic policy gridlock and when does it lead it to consensual decision-making?.

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