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The changing world of top officials: mandarins or valets?

Rhodes, R.A.W. and Weller, Pat (2001) The changing world of top officials: mandarins or valets?, Maidenhead, GB, Open University Press, 290pp. (Public Policy & Management).

Record type: Book


This book explores the roles and workings of the heads of government departments in six nations: departmental secretaries in Australia, departmentschefs in Denmark, directeurs d'administration in France, secretaris-generaal in the Netherlands, chief executives in New Zealand, and permanent secretaries in the UK. It also seeks to explore their 'infinite variety' by showing how inherited government traditions shape the response to reform.

It examines how such reforms as privatization and contracting out have affected who does these jobs and how they do them. It asks whether the demands of the new public management have made departmental heads more accountable, more public and more vulnerable. For each of the six countries the authors give details of departmental secretaries' backgrounds, their career paths, their conditions of employment, their impacts, and their changing positions. Central to each chapter are short biographies or portraits of top officials with extensive quotations from interviews in which they talk about how they see their worlds and how, for instance, they now focus more on managing their departments and less on policy-making. The experience of senior public servants is brought vividly to life.

This book is the first comprehensive, comparative portrait of top government officials, and is an important resource for students and scholars of politics, public policy and public management, and makes fascinating reading for all senior civil servants themselves.

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Published date: October 2001
Organisations: Politics & International Relations


Local EPrints ID: 336522
ISBN: 9780335203017
PURE UUID: a4d1d353-4ba9-4f16-8df4-a40614a8c161
ORCID for R.A.W. Rhodes: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 28 Mar 2012 10:31
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 06:07

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Author: R.A.W. Rhodes ORCID iD
Author: Pat Weller

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