Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Collateral Effects of Representation: Three Essays Evaluating Representative Bureaucracy in Practice
by Alteri, Ashley M., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2017, 191; 10607698
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation evaluates representative bureaucracy, a public management theory that has been embraced by public management scholars and implicitly embraced by practitioners through the use of diversity hiring initiatives. The theory of representative bureaucracy posits that a bureaucracy will function better if the administrative arm of government, in addition to its political one, is representative of the public. This representativeness is achieved if the bureaucrat shares a common identity with the group or groups they are meant to represent. The three papers within this dissertation provide an analysis of how this theory translates into practice. Specifically, these papers examine the collateral effects of representation: the impact of representation on organizational health measures; the impact of representation on employee perceptions of fairness; and how the public interprets the role of a public servant after a bureaucrat engages in active representation.

The first paper examines the organizational outcomes associated with passive representation. This paper looks at the impact of passive representation on employee perceptions that their department is open to diversity and intolerant of discrimination. This study also examines whether representation levels within particular groups (based on race, sex, and age) predict the rates of race-, sex-, and age-based discrimination complaints filed. Only the ratio of employees age 40 or older is associated with a change in employee perceptions that their department is open to diversity and intolerant of discrimination. However, the ratio of several racial categories each predicted a change in employee perceptions that their department is intolerant of discrimination. In the models examining discrimination complaints, the ratio of minority employees predicts an increase in rates of race-, sex- and age-based discrimination. However, neither the ratios of women nor employees age 40 or older predict changes in sex or age-based discrimination.

The second paper examines the impact of passive representation on employee perceptions that the hiring process is fair. The paper uses an index of overall racial representativeness within the organization to analyze the impact that racial representation has on employee perceptions that the recruitment and hiring process is fair. There is no relationship between the overall measure of racial representativeness in human resources, as compared to all employees, and employee perceptions that the hiring process is fair. Instead, only the rates of minorities and women employed within the department predict employee perceptions that the hiring process is fair. This is notable because it raises a question regarding how representativeness should be measured.

Finally, the third paper examines how the public interprets the role of a public servant after a bureaucrat engages in active representation. Following the Supreme Court’s decision that required all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a Kentucky county clerk named Kim Davis refused to issue licenses to same-sex couples on the basis of her religious beliefs. This paper uses cognitive framing analysis to examine how Davis’ actions were interpreted. During the discussion, two frames emerged regarding the role of a public servant. The first and most popular frame, advocates that public servants have a duty to uphold the law. The second frame argues that believers have a duty to serve God’s law above all else. This study provides evidence that political identity determines how an individual will interpret the role of a public servant and the appropriateness of active representation. Even when members of the public are represented, they may not see active representation as increasing the legitimacy of government actions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rubin, Ellen V.
Commitee: Dodge, Jennifer, Llorens, Jared J.
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Public Administration and Policy
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 79/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Law, Management, Public administration
Keywords: Discretion, Discrimination, Equal employment, Hiring, Personnel, Representative bureaucracy
Publication Number: 10607698
ISBN: 9780355153422
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