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In: The Next Public Administration: Debates and Dilemmas

Chapter 3: Bureaucrats Versus Service Providers: Personnel in the Public Sector

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Bureaucrats Versus Service Providers: Personnel in the Public Sector
Bureaucrats Versus Service Providers: Personnel in the Public Sector

In the study of public administration, organizations, or even government as a whole, are often anthropomorphized. Newspapers, media personalities, and even scholars, will talk about the ‘Ministry of X making a decision’, or say that ‘the government undertook a new policy initiative’. That language is a convenient way to cope with the complexities of decision-making in the public sector, but ignores the important reality that it is individuals, or groups of individuals, who are making those decisions. To understand government, and the public bureaucracy within government, we need to understand the people who work in government. In particular, we need to understand how public employees define their ...

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