The State of the World's Bureaucracies

12 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2007 Last revised: 6 Apr 2017

See all articles by Steven Van de Walle

Steven Van de Walle

KU Leuven - Department of Political Science; Erasmus University Rotterdam - Department of Public Administration


Ranking countries is a popular exercise. Recently, we have seen attempts to internationally compare the performance of countries' public administrations. The number of available indicators and studies is increasing, yet their use has remained limited in the public administration research community. In this article, we critically analyse four of these studies and indicators. Evidence from the World Bank Governance Indicators, the European Central Bank's public sector efficiency study, the Global Competitiveness Report and the World Competitiveness Yearbook is used to assess data quality and conceptual validity. Generally, it is hard to determine what these indicators actually measure, and often they only give a partial and biased view of the public administration's role and functioning. Furthermore, several datasets are plagued by quality problems.

Keywords: governance indicators, quality of institutions, comparative public administration

JEL Classification: H11, H80, O19

Suggested Citation

Van de Walle, Steven and Van de Walle, Steven, The State of the World's Bureaucracies. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 439-450, December 2006, Available at SSRN:

Steven Van de Walle (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam - Department of Public Administration ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam
0031 10 408 2518 (Phone)


KU Leuven - Department of Political Science ( email )

Public Management Institute
Van Evenstraat 2A
B-3000 Leuven
+32 16 323614 (Phone)
+32 16 323611 (Fax)


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