Representative bureaucracy and the role of expertise in politics

Wednesday, 05 August 2015 - Benny Geys


The vast majority of existing studies on bureaucratic representation focus on bureaucracies’ permanent and internal staff. Yet, the rising sophistication of modern democracies and the technocratization of political life are gradually inducing an increased reliance on external experts to assist in the development and implementation of policy decisions. This trend, we argue, raises the need to extend studies of bureaucratic representation to such external and non-permanent experts in governmental affairs. In this article, we take a first step in this direction using seconded national experts (SNEs) in the European Commission as our empirical laboratory. Our results highlight that Commission SNEs do not appear representative of their constituent population (i.e., the EU-27 population) along a number of socio-demographic dimensions. Moreover, we find that the role perception of “experts” is primarily explained by organizational affiliation, and only secondarily by demographic characteristics (except, of course, education).

Trondal, J., Z. Murdoch and B. Geys. 2015. "Representative bureaucracy and the role of expertise in politics." Politics and Governance, 3(2015)1:26-36

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