Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Between bureaucracy and democracy: Regulating administrative discretion in Japan
by Lebo, Franklin Barr, Ph.D., Kent State University, 2013, 260; 3618878
Abstract (Summary)

This study explores the link between democracy and bureaucracy using Japan as the critical case study. The research question is whether competition by multiple principals creates opportunities for bureaucratic drift. This project hypothesizes that policy settings including multiple principals (independent variable) are more likely to manifest bureaucratic drift (dependent variable). At the same time, policy settings excluding multiple principals (independent variable) are more likely to manifest less bureaucratic drift (dependent variable). Variation in agent discretion is the critical effect of the independent variable (i.e., number of principals) on the dependent variable (bureaucratic drift).

Evaluating the exercise of discretion of administrators is feasible if one's evidence is primarily from the administrators themselves. To test these hypotheses, therefore, this project adopts a research design based on a qualitative case study methodology. The case studies include four of Japan's ministries: the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Land, Industry, Transportation, and Tourism (MLITT), and the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW). Likewise, the role of the National Personnel Authority (NPA) in the administrative system is also evaluated. Research participants include both participants in the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program along with NPA administrators.

This study contributes to the extant corpus of research in a number of salient respects. First, this project proposes a different dependent variable in that most studies are focused on administrative reform whereas the focus here is on bureaucratic drift. Second, this project discusses the important effect of bureaucratic discretion. Third, while relevant to the quality of the Japanese democracy in particular, these findings may be leveraged to a larger conversation about the relationship between bureaucracy and democracy in the Asian context and perhaps beyond. Finally, this project provides an explicit policy recommendation for contemporary Japanese politics proposing that greater authority be delegated to administrative agents, albeit supervised by a powerful intermediary, to minimize bureaucratic drift.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hook, Steven W., Johnson, Renee J.
Commitee: Barnes, Andrew, Hook, Steven, Johnson, Renee, Solis, Mireya, Wunderlin, Clarence, Jr.
School: Kent State University
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 75/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian Studies, Political science, Public administration
Keywords: Bureaucracy, Discretion, Japan, NPA, National personnel authority, Principal agent theory
Publication Number: 3618878
ISBN: 978-1-303-87413-0
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