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Rome and Byzantium: An Administrative Overview

PAQ, Vol. 26 No. 3, (2002)

An unintended consequence of the abrupt collapse of the USSR was to
revive the rift between Rome and Byzantium whose origins are
traceable to doctrinal disputes within the Christian Church culminating
in the Schism of 1054. The legacy of the mistrust that this divorce
engendered accounts for stereotypes which still exists today. None of
these pre-conceptions has proved more time-resistant than the
perceived dichotomy between divergent patterns of governance in
Rome and Constantinopole. Thus, “Roman” as a predicate for
administration conveys the image of rigor, integrity, and effectiveness
while “Byzantium,” by contrast, is often used a s synonym for
bureaucratic mu ddling and obscurantism. Of course, nothing could be
further from the truth. The study of the two systems reveals, quite on
the contrary, a remarkable affinity and continuity born of a common
past and a shared administrative culture. Although differences exist,
they may be explained in terms of changing circumstances,
environmental challenges or pressures as well as varying degrees of
centralization of power. The implications of all these are self-evident
for modern governance and public administration.

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