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The relationship between politicians and administrators – a logic of disharmony

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The relationship between politicians (elected officials) and administrators (appointed officials) is the cornerstone to understanding the governing process and has always been highly debated in the public administration literature. Traditionally, the debate focuses on Weber’s clear separation between politicians and administrators and a criticism of the basic assumptions of Weber’s model. An alternative model is the Dichotomy–Duality–Model which gives a more varied description of the relationship between politicians and administrators. This article argues that in order to get a more thorough understanding of the complicated interaction between politicians and administrators, it is necessary to pay attention to the two groups’ logic of action. It is argued that politicians are driven by inductive logic of action while administrators are influenced by a deductive logic of action. These two opposites create a logic of disharmony between the two agents. Empirical findings from counties in Denmark support the present and the resistance of the logic, since management tools designed to create a harmonious relationship between politicians and administrators are unable to change the logic of disharmony.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9299.00326

Affiliations: University of Southern Denmark

Publication date: December 1, 2002

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