Bureaucracy and Democracy
Accountability and Performance
- Steven J. Balla - George Washington University, USA
- William T. Gormley, Jr. - Georgetown University, USA
Given the influence of public bureaucracies in policymaking and implementation, Steven J. Balla and William T. Gormley assess their performance using four key perspectives—bounded rationality, principal-agent theory, interest group mobilization, and network theory—to help students develop an analytic framework for evaluating bureaucratic accountability. The new Fourth Edition provides a thorough review of bureaucracy during the Obama and Trump administrations, as well as new attention to state and local level examples and the role of bureaucratic values.
This is the best single overview of bureaucracy and how it fits in our democratic system available. The book elegantly weaves a nuanced understanding of bureaucracy itself with the functioning of agencies in a political system. Readers will learn a tremendous amount. Balla and Gormley know their stuff and they share it in an engaging and accessible fashion. The book includes clear frameworks and contemporary examples to help readers make sense of this complex but important topic.
Employing a series of timely and engaging illustrations, Balla and Gormley walk readers through the key theoretical approaches to modern bureaucratic governance. The result is a sophisticated but accessible treatment of the complexities of bureaucratic performance and accountability. This is a go-to resource for those interested in understanding what is at stake when it comes to the administrative state.
“Bureaucracy and Democracy delivers on the longstanding promise that professors make to students each year: that theories of bureaucracy and democracies matter in very practical and applicable ways, and that to understand bureaucracy you need to understand democracy (and vice versa). Students who read this book will have that ‘a-ha’ moment about all these connections. That, to me, is worth the price of the book.”
“Bureaucracy can be a dry topic to teach and study; Balla and Gormley make it accessible and fun. The book provides a wonderful overview of the theories behind bureaucratic decision-making, as well as the political and other challenges faced by administrative agencies.”
This book looks good for senior-level students who study bureaucracy in depth.