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Politics of the Policy Process: Varieties of Bureaucracy and Governance Outcomes




Admissions requirements

The students have taken the course, Institutions of Governance and Development, or have obtained permission from the convener/instructor.


The main goal of this course is to examine varieties in features of public bureaucracies and their effects on various governance outcomes with a comparative perspective. Contemporary political science has paid relatively little attention to the executive branches and their bureaucracies (Fukuyama 2013). However, scholarly research in the last two decades has rediscovered bureaucracy (Olsen 2006) and has identified the significant role bureaucracy plays in shaping public policies, their implementation, and the related socioeconomic outcomes. This course will examine variations in features of public bureaucracy and how such variations are associated with different governance outcomes with a cross-national and sub-national comparative perspective. In particular, the course focuses on four aspects of bureaucratic features, including 1) administrative structures (e.g. recruitment system of public officials, administrative procedure), 2) managerial capacity, 3) size of government, and 4) bureaucratic representation (e.g. race and gender).

In class, for example, we will address questions such as: How do characteristics of bureaucracy differ across countries? How do they impact government performance? Is merit-based recruitment of public officials the best way to prevent corruption? How do capacities and experience of municipalities affect municipal performance? How is the size of public bureaucracy related to the vigor of civil society? How does gender representation in the administrative body affect government performance? Does increasing the number of female public officials influence government performance?

This class consists of four parts. The first part looks at the definition of public administration and explains why we need to look at public bureaucracy, drawing on classic and recent literature. The second part of the course touches on the basics of research design. This is mainly for the final paper assignment, in which students are asked to write a research paper proposal. The third part addresses key differences in the variety of bureaucracies and looks at how bureaucratic features differ along several dimensions. The fourth part examines how such variations are associated with different governance outcomes.

Course objectives


  • Identify the importance of bureaucracies in various governance and societal outcomes

  • Explain varieties in bureaucratic systems around the world

  • Describe how different features of bureaucracies are associated with different outcomes


  • Practice research design skills in the field of public administration and bureaucracy

  • Applying major concepts and theoretical frameworks in comparative bureaucracy to the real world issues pertaining to bureaucracy

  • Practice and develop presentation skills


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

This course will be taught through a mix of mini-lectures by the instructor, student presentations, group discussion, and class discussion facilitated by students.


Class attendance and participation, 15%, all weeks
Mini presentation and discussion leader, 15%, assigned week
Assignment, 3 x 10%, weeks 2, 4, 6
Final paper presentation, 10%, week 7
Final paper: 30%, week 8


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Course readings will be available at a Blackboard site for this course or the Leiden University library.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Kohei Suzuki


Students are expected to read assigned readings before the class.