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The Roles Assumed By Public Administrators: The Link Between Administrative Discretion And Representation

Author: ALEXANDRU ROMAN
Published in PAQ, Vol. 39 No. 4

Traditionally, studies couched within the theory of representative bureaucracy have focused on examining outcomes for social minorities within a specific set of administrative practices or public policies. The concept of administrative discretion typically lies at the core of these studies, as public servants do indeed need to enjoy a certain level of administrative discretion in order to incorporate the values of a given group into their everyday decision-making. Yet, while the centrality of administrative discretion is seldom, if ever, questioned and it is most often implicitly assumed, its actual effects are rarely explicitly explored. This study, constructed on the theoretical insights drawn from representative bureaucracy and role theories, examines the relationship between administrative discretion and the assumption of roles by public servants, in particular, the representation role of steward of public interest. The empirical results confirm that administrative discretion has a significant impact on the types of roles assumed by public administrators.

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