The Craft of Bureaucratic Neutrality

Interests and Influence in Governmental Regulation of Occupational Safety

by Gregory A. Huber

Are political understandings of bureaucracy incompatible with Weberian features of administrative neutrality? In examining the question of whether interest groups and elected officials are able to influence how government agencies implement the law, this book identifies the political origins of bureaucratic neutrality. In bridging the traditional gap between questions of internal management (public administration) and external politics (political science), Huber argues that 'strategic neutrality' allows bureaucratic leaders to both manage their subordinates and sustain political support. By analyzing the OSH Act of 1970, Huber demonstrates the political origins and benefits of administrative neutrality, and contrasts it with apolitical and unconstrained administrative implementation. Historical analysis, interviews with field-level bureaucrats and their supervisors, and quantitative analysis provide a rich understanding of the twin difficulties agency leaders face as political actors and personnel managers.

  • Cambridge University Press; May 2007
  • ISBN: 9780511282966
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: The Craft of Bureaucratic Neutrality
  • Author: Gregory A. Huber
  • Imprint: Cambridge University Press

In The Press

"Strategic Neutrality is a must-read for students of American political institutions, public administration, and public policy. Professor Huber’s book has a new take on a set of ageless questions: to what extent will politics influence bureaucratic decisions, and will politics encourage officials to ignore their policy expertise? Huber argues and convincingly shows that it can be politically optimal for an agency to adopt a norm of professionalism or "neutrality."
Brandice Canes-Wrone, Princeton University