The Partisan-Professional-Dichotomy revisited: Politicization and Decision-Making of Senior Civil Servants

Ebinger, Falk and Veit, Sylvia and Fromm, Nadin (2019) The Partisan-Professional-Dichotomy revisited: Politicization and Decision-Making of Senior Civil Servants. Public Administration , 97 (4). pp. 861-876. ISSN 1467-9299

Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

Download (1MB)


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 deemed detrimental to professionalism and meritocracy. To scrutinize this contradiction, the article examines how a party-political background of senior civil servants influences their decision-making behavior. Two theoretically derived conceptions of loyalty are put therefore to the test: responsiveness and responsibility. Effects are captured by using 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 insofar as they reveal that politicized senior civil servants neither act more responsive nor less responsible 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.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Politicization, Senior Civil Servants, Responsiveness, Responsibility, Patronage, Decision-making
Divisions: Departments > Management > Public Management und Governance
Version of the Document: Published
Depositing User: Gertraud Novotny
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2019 06:58
Last Modified: 07 Jan 2020 09:32
Related URLs:


View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics