Role Models in the Senior Civil Service: How Tasks Frame the Identification of Senior Bureaucrats with Active and Reactive Roles

Falk Ebinger, Sylvia Veit, Bastian Strobel

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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The influence of senior civil servants’ (SCS) tasks on their role perceptions has been widely ignored in the past research on the administrative élite. This paper presents new survey data on SCS in German federal ministries to test this relation by categorizing SCS into three task-related groups: strategists, policy specialists and administrators. Regression analyses reveal that SCS’s tasks do not influence their (strong) identification with reactive (supportive) roles but have a significant impact on their identification with active, more politically entrepreneurial roles. This entails two important findings: First, SCS’s tasks matter for their appreciation of different roles. Second, active and reactive role models are not irreconcilable (as it is often argued in the literature on bureaucratic politicization), but complementary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 12
JournalInternational Journal of Public Administration
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 506014 Comparative politics
  • 505027 Administrative studies
  • 506009 Organisation theory
  • 502024 Public economy
  • 506002 E-government
  • 509004 Evaluation research


  • Administrative Elites
  • Politicization
  • Role Perception
  • Tasks

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