Bureaucracy and Service Delivery

Thomas B. Pepinsky

Cornell University - Department of Government

Jan Pierskalla

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science

Audrey Sacks

World Bank

June 21, 2016

This essay reviews the literature on the politics of bureaucracy in the developing world, with a focus on service delivery and bureaucratic performance. We survey classic topics and themes such as the developmental state, principal-agent relations, and the efficient grease hypothesis, and link them to new research findings in political science, sociology, and economics. We identify the concept of embeddedness as an important yet still underexplored framework that cuts across disciplines and which may be used to understand bureaucratic performance and service delivery. Looking forward, we outline a framework for conceptualizing bureaucratic action by exploiting variation across time, space, task, and client, and identify promising areas for further research on the bureaucrat-citizen encounter in developing countries.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 47

Keywords: embeddedness, civil servants, street-level bureaucrats, developmental state, principal-agent relations

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Date posted: June 23, 2016  

Suggested Citation

Pepinsky, Thomas B. and Pierskalla, Jan and Sacks, Audrey, Bureaucracy and Service Delivery (June 21, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2798912 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2798912

Contact Information

Thomas B. Pepinsky (Contact Author)
Cornell University - Department of Government ( email )
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
Jan Pierskalla
Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science ( email )
Columbus, OH 43210
United States
Audrey Sacks
World Bank ( email )
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States
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