The Westminster Model and the “Indivisibility of the Political and Administrative Elite”: A Convenient Myth Whose Time Is Up? Authors

David Richards, Martin J. Smith

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Abstract

This article argues that the principle of indivisibility in the relationship between political and administrative elites acted as a central convention of the Westminster system for much of the twentieth century. It explores how in more recent decades this principle has been challenged by the shift to a principal–agent approach. It considers the extent to which this shift diminishes the traditional Westminster model's understanding of the minister–civil servant relationship as one based on a symbiotic interdependent partnership. In its place has emerged a more universal command and control relationship that is seen as necessary to meet the demands of modern accountability and transparency. Such a change has fundamentally altered a long-established power-bargain between ministers and civil servants and undermined a core tenet of the Westminster model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-516
Number of pages18
JournalGovernance
Volume29
Issue number4
Early online date25 Jul 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2016

Keywords

  • Westminster Model
  • Whitehall
  • Political Elites
  • Haldane Model
  • New Public Management
  • Civil Service

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