Nowadays, probably more than ever, bureaucratic organizations and senior civil servants are directly exposed to public pressures, including media coverage, public protest and shifts in public opinion. In our recent article in Policy & Politics entitled Political Control or legitimacy deficit? Bureaucracies’ symbolic response to bottom-up public pressures, we explore what makes a bureaucracy more or less attentive and responsive to bottom-up public pressures – a question that stems from our broader concern with the responsiveness of government institutions.
In our article, we suggest two possible explanations for bureaucracies’ attentiveness to public pressures. On the one hand, one might expect higher levels of political control to render bureaucracies more attentive to public pressures in order to preempt intervention by politicians who are reliant on public support. On the other hand, regulation scholars have suggested that autonomous bureaucratic organizations (such as independent regulatory agencies), which are subjected to lower degrees of political control, are nonetheless eager to display their attentiveness Continue reading