Enhancing democracy via bureaucracy: Senior managers' social identities and motivation for policy change

Sharon Gilad, Saar Alon-Barkat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article challenges the depiction of bureaucracy as a hurdle to democratic responsiveness. It proposes that senior civil servants' (SCSs) dual position as professionals and citizens may enhance government permeability to salient public agendas. Building on social identity theory, we argue that salient public agendas may arouse SCSs' social identification with in-groups and thereby elicit their motivation for policy change within their task domain. Employing a mixed-methods design, we analyze SCSs' social identification with the participants of the large-scale social protests that took place in Israel during the summer of 2011, and their motivation for policy change in response to the protest agenda. We find that SCSs' social identification with the protesters enhanced their motivation for policy change. In addition, SCSs' perception of a conflict between responsiveness to the protest agenda and their organizational or professional identities shaped their preferences for policy solutions more than their motivation for policy change.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)359-380
Number of pages22
JournalGovernance
Volume31
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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