Chapter

Living Westminster Traditions

Mark Bevir and R. A. W. Rhodes

in The State as Cultural Practice

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199580750
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723179 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580750.003.0008
Living Westminster Traditions

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Chapter 8 looks at the way senior public servants coped with managerial rationalities; the continuous reform of the public service. The rise of the new public management in the 1980s led to recurring challenges to the administrative traditions of the public service in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The chapter analyses how the heads of the public service articulate the traditions of ‘constitutional bureaucracy’ found in Westminster systems of parliamentary government and selectively draw on past understandings to understand present-day changes. It describes living traditions under challenge that reshape reforms as reforms reshape them. It concludes that the heads of the public services have found ‘space’ or ‘voice’ to identify innovative ways of combining past traditions with new organizing principles of governance. In each case, it is not a question of ‘in with the new, out with the old’, but of ‘in with the new alongside key parts of the old’. The myths and legends of yore remain germane to the modern public service.

Keywords: public service; managerialism; rationalities; Westminster; Australia; Canada; Britain; constitutional bureaucracy; tradition; myth

Chapter.  7501 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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