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Does Administrative Reform Improve Bureaucratic Performance? A Cross Country Empirical Analysis

Author: GENE A. BREWER
Published in PFM, Vol. 4 No. 3

This study examines the purported relationship between
administrative reform and bureaucratic performance. From an
international perspective, it asks if there are any types of
administrative reform being implemented by democratic governments
that improve bureaucratic performance. To answer this question, data
on reform experiences in twenty-five Western democracies are
analyzed. The results suggest that some types of administrative reform
seem to improve bureaucratic performance, some seem to undercut it,
and some seem to have very little effect. As might be expected,
contextual factors appear to affect bureaucratic performance more
than the reforms studied here. These contextual factors include
national security threats, ethnic/religious tensions, divided
government, and economic instability. Thus, this study concludes that
although certain types of administrative reform are potentially
powerful policy instruments, the relationship between administrative
reform and bureaucratic performance is weaker and more complex
than national reform agendas suggest.

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