Representative Bureaucracy: Assessing the Evidence on Active Representation

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Mark Bradbury Ph.D., Associate Professor, Director of MPA Program (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: The theory of representative bureaucracy suggests that a public workforce representative of the people in terms of race, ethnicity, and sex will help ensure that the interests of all groups are considered in bureaucratic decision-making processes. The theory posits that the active representation of group interests occurs because individual bureaucrats reflect the views of those who share their demographic backgrounds. Research in the public administration literature, however, includes only a relatively small number of studies providing evidence consistent with active representation. In addition, that literature is, for the most part, composed of studies that are conducted at an organizational level, making it impossible for us to draw inferences about the behavior of individual bureaucrats without committing an ecological fallacy. Researchers in the field of criminal justice studies, on the other hand, have long tested the relationship between workforce demography and government outcomes and have done so at the individual level and in contexts that allow confidence that the outcomes observed are indeed the product of action by minority or female public servants. Those studies are reviewed, and their findings provide the first definitive evidence of a connection between the presence of diversity in the public workforce and the representation of minority interests.

Additional Information

Bradbury, Mark (2011) “Representative Bureaucracy: Assessing Current and Additional Evidence of Active Representation.” American Review of Public Administration, vol. 41, num. 2 ( March 2011), with J. Edward Kellough. (ISSN: 0275-0740) Published by Sage. (ISSN: 0275-0740) doi: 10.1177/0275074010367823
Language: English
Date: 2011
representative bureaucracy, active representation, criminal justice

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