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Lecture | Research Seminar

FGGA Research Seminar: The Merit of Politics in Bureaucratic Appointments

Thursday 7 February 2019
No registration is needed for the seminar. After the seminar, refreshments will be served.
FGGA Research Seminars
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague


This paper develops a theoretical argument about the value of political experience for top-level administrative positions. It starts with a critique of existing accounts of politicization that typically involve a negative connotation of using political criteria in personnel decisions. The paper argues that appointing individuals with political experience should not only be seen as something negative, but may also constitute an important qualification for top-level bureaucrats operating in a political context. The paper explores this proposition using an analysis of career background characteristics (political experience, job-related expertise, education, leadership experience) of agency heads in four ministerial portfolios between 1980-2016 in Norway.


Tobias Bach is Associate Professor of Public Administration in the Department of Political Science at the University of Oslo. His research interests cover the structure and organization of government and executive politics in an internationally comparative perspective. His current research focuses on the determinants and effects of career patterns of senior government officials, bureaucratic autonomy and political control of agencies, and the role of institutional interests in explaining reforms and policy outcomes. He has published in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Governance and Public Administration.

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