Legitimacy crises and the temporal dynamics of bureaucratic representation

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The representation of specific groups and social interests within (or by) the civil service has long been a concern of public administration scholarship. Yet, much of this literature focuses on representation at a single point in time. In this article, we propose a more dynamic perspective. In terms of theory, we postulate specific temporal relationships between triggering cues (e.g., a crisis event) and the representation decisions of civil servants. We specify two complementary mechanisms underlying these relationships: i.e. a sensemaking process whereby the perceived meaning and relative salience of distinct groups and interests changes over time; and a shift in bureaucrats’ discretion to represent specific groups or interests changes over time. We illustrate these time-dependent processes using interview and survey data from the European Commission.


Original languageEnglish
Early online date9 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jan 2021


    Research areas

  • Crisis, European Commission, Representative bureaucracy, Sensemaking, Time

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ID: 185370456

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