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Bureaucratic Professionalization is a Contagious Process Inside Government: Evidence from a Priming Experiment with 3,000 Chilean Civil Servants

Mikkelsen, Kim Sass; Schuster, Christian; Meyer‐Sahling, Jan‐Hinrik; Wettig, Magdalena Rojas; (2022) Bureaucratic Professionalization is a Contagious Process Inside Government: Evidence from a Priming Experiment with 3,000 Chilean Civil Servants. Public Administration Review , 82 (2) pp. 290-302. 10.1111/puar.13446. Green open access

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Abstract

Education is at the center of theories of how bureaucracies professionalize. Going back to Weber, the process toward a capable and professional bureaucracy has been viewed as driven by the entry of well-educated, professional recruits. We argue that this perspective misses important dynamics within professionalizing bureaucracies—in particular, how bureaucrats inside government react when bureaucracies professionalize. Building on this insight, we argue that incumbent bureaucrats face incentives to acquire greater expertise when educated entrants arrive, in order to remain competitive for organizational rewards (such as promotions) inside government and jobs outside government in case educated entrants “outcompete” them. We provide empirical support for these propositions with a priming experiment with 3,000 bureaucrats in Chile's central government. Bureaucrats primed about the professionalization of other bureaucrats put a greater premium on their own expertise acquisition. Our findings suggest that bureaucratic professionalization is a contagious—and thus self-reinforcing—process inside government.

Type: Article
Title: Bureaucratic Professionalization is a Contagious Process Inside Government: Evidence from a Priming Experiment with 3,000 Chilean Civil Servants
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/puar.13446
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/puar.13446
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10150085
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