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Comparing Westminster$
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R. A. W. Rhodes, John Wanna, and Patrick Weller

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199563494

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563494.001.0001

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The Public Service

The Public Service

Chapter:
(p.155) 6 The Public Service
Source:
Comparing Westminster
Author(s):

R. A. W. Rhodes (Contributor Webpage)

John Wanna (Contributor Webpage)

Patrick Weller (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199563494.003.0006

This chapter explores how senior public servants create and reinterpret traditions. The public service confronts two dilemmas: between the generalist tradition and the impact of managerialism, and between constitutional bureaucracy and political responsiveness. These dilemmas both drove the reforms and motivated the various heads of the public service to rethink their traditions to make sense of the world they inherited and the dilemmas they faced. Although this approach stresses local custom and practice, it can also identify shared beliefs and common responses. So, the chapter concludes public servants continue to hold many beliefs in common; they are neutral, expert, and accountable. Most notably, all seek to assert their professionalism by codifying their beliefs and practices. The essence of the public service is no longer a shared understanding, it is a written code. As a result, the family of ideas that is Westminster's constitutional bureaucracy persist to this day.

Keywords:   responsiveness, professionalism, constitutional bureaucracy, codification, managerialism

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