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Representative bureaucracy and multilevel governance in the EU: a research agenda.

1. Introduction

In September 2010, the European Commission (EC) introduced its fourth road map as a five-year plan to improve gender equality and, inter alia, the representation of women in decision making roles. The five-year plan is integral to the EU 2020 strategy to achieve broader social inclusion and good governance goals. The EC has acknowledged that its previous road maps have been limited in improving the representation of women in senior political and administrative positions (EC 2010a; 2010b). Indeed the EC (2008) has recognized that the inequalities which exist in political and administrative spheres resonate within the broader EU community, with disparities between men and women in socio-economic activities. Implicit in the EC's road map and efforts to improve the representation of women in public life and key decision making roles, is a link between the passive and active representation of women. The concepts of passive and active representation are integral to the theory of representative bureaucracy. Representative bureaucracy scholars would argue that the legitimacy of state and public bureaucracies is dependent on the extent to which citizens are represented, passively and actively, within a bureaucracy. As the paper will argue representative bureaucracy theory draws upon Max Weber's "ideal-type" bureaucracy and the rational legitimate approach of the state. Thus, the first part of the paper provides perspectives of Weberian, feminist and representative bureaucracy theories. The second part of the paper questions the extent of representation in EU institutions. And the third part of the paper explores multi-level governance (MLG) from the perspectives of feminism and representative bureaucracy. The paper will conclude with a research agenda and hypotheses to hopefully contribute to scholarship in this under-researched area.

2. Theories of Bureaucracy

2.1 Theory of Bureaucracy: Max Weber (1)

Weber's theory of bureaucracy is within the context of power, legitimacy and rationality. Weber's idea of bureaucracy is explained through the context of power ("Macht") and domination/authority ("Herrschaft") (Weber 1968; Mommsen 1974). According to Weber (1968), power is when one actor in a social relationship is in a position to carry out his/her will despite resistance. Domination or authority is when a command with specific content will be obeyed by a given group of persons (Weber 1968). The concepts underpin the idea of legitimacy, which according to Weber (1968) is the motivation which induces persons to obey given commands regardless of whether these commands are addressed to them personally or in the language of rules, laws and regulations. Thus, the extent to which people are likely to obey a command depends on whether they believe the system of commands to be legitimate. Weber believed that legitimacy was imperative to the stability of political systems for, if the governed did not believe in the legitimacy of a political system it would be bound to be unstable and eventually collapse (Mommsen 1974). Weber was an advocate of democracy since he believed that every stable government enjoyed the consent of the governed (ibid.). He viewed the formal enactment of laws as established legitimacy and was the most rational form of authority (Mommsen 1974; Blau and Meyer 1987). Weber constructed the "pure type of legal domination," as counterparts to other forms of domination (Charismatic and Traditional), with laws administered through a bureaucracy (ibid.). Weber therefore constructed an "ideal type" of administrative organization--a bureaucracy which represented the average of all existing organizational structures, abstracting the most common characteristics to develop an organizational type which maximized rationality and legitimacy (Blau and Meyer 1987; Du Gay 2000; Thompson and Miller 2003). The main characteristics of Weberian bureaucracy include:

1. Regular activities required for the purposes of the organization are distributed in a fixed manner as official duties (Weber 1946). In modern organizations these regular activities and distribution are manifest in the division of labor and specialization (Blau and Meyer 1987; Du Gay 2000; Meier and Hill, 2005).

2. The organization follows a principle of hierarchy with each lower office supervised by an office higher in the organization (Weber 1947). Thus, every official was accountable to a superior in the organization with the superior having authority over subordinates (Blau and Meyer 1987; Du Gay 2000; Meier and Hill, 2005).

3. The administration of the governed was through a consistent system of abstract rules and the application of these rules to particular cases (Weber 1947). Thus there were standards to ensure the consistent application of the uniformity of rules with explicit rules defining the responsibility of members of the organization and their relationship with others within and out-with the organization (Blau and Meyer 1987; Du Gay 2000; Meier and Hill, 2005).

4. The ideal official conducts the office in the spirit of formalistic impersonality without hatred or passion (Weber 1947). This characteristic of the organization is a form of rational detachment from official duties and a separation of the personal from the professional (Blau and Meyer 1987; Du Gay 2000; Meier and Hill, 2005). Weber believed that in order for officials to rationally implement legitimate laws, personal detachment and objectivity was required especially when dealing with clients of the organization (ibid.).

5. Employment is based on technical qualification with members of the organization protected by rules to avoid arbitrary dismissal (Weber 1947). Weber envisaged a career system of selection based on competence and meritorious promotion, which would encourage an esprit de corps with members of the organization motivated by the acknowledgement of performance, a development of loyalty and permanence of service (Blau and Meyer 1987).

6. Weber (1947) believed that " ... experience tends universally to show that the purely bureaucratic type of administrative organization ... is, from a purely technical point of view, capable of attaining the highest degree of efficiency...." Thus the longevity of the membership of an organization by virtue of meritorious promotion coupled with qualifications ensured experience was not lost to the organization and thereby maximized efficient application of laws and duties of the office (Blau and Meyer 1987; Du Gay 2000; Meier and Hill, 2005).

The characteristics of a Weberian bureaucracy are firmly embedded in modern government. The fixed and official jurisdictional area ordered by laws and rules, the persistence of hierarchy, officialdom, occupations based on careers and promotion, etc. are all pervasive aspects of government (Meier and Hill 2005). There have been various critics and proponents of Weberian bureaucracy (for example see Downs 1967; Blau 1963; Goodsell 1983; Blau and Meyer 1987; Clegg 1990; Du Gay 2000; Stokes and Clegg 2002; Thompson and Miller 2003; Walton 2005; Olsen 2006; 2008; Peters 2001; Meier and Hill 2005). The neo-liberal reforms of the public sector saw a revisionist view of bureaucracy, i.e. rather than a rational and efficient administrative organization it became synonymous with inefficiency through rule-bound, monopolistic behavior (see Thompson and Miller 2003).

2.2 Feminist Theory of Bureaucracy

Feminist theory and the study of gender representation is a well developed area within the fields of sociology, political science and organizational studies (see for example Kanter 1977; Celis 2009; Childs 2006; Darcy, Welch and Clark 1994; Grofman, Handley and Niemi 1992; Karp and Banducci 2008; Kittilson 2006; Lovenduski 2005). There is to a lesser extent research which explores gender representation within public bureaucratic organizations (Dolan, 2001) and within a MLG context (Haussman, Sawer and Vickers 2010). Nonetheless, there is extant research which explores representation within bureaucratic organizations (see for example Cayer and Sigelman 1980; Dolan 2000; 2004; Dolan and Rosenbloom 2003; Dometrius 1984; Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995; Guy 1993; Guy and Newman 2004; Keiser et al. 2002; Kelly and Newman 2001; Mansbridge 1999; Mazur 2002; McBride and Mazur 2010; McTavish and Miller 2006; Nicolson 1996; Rehfuss 1986; Saltzstein 1983; 1986; Savage and Witz 1992; Stivers 2002; Sigelman 1976; Weldon 2002). Feminist critique of bureaucracy often explains how the characteristics of bureaucracy create disadvantage for women. Feminist scholars would argue that gender power relations, which exist in society, manifest in organizations (Lovenduski 2005; Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995). At this juncture it would be useful to revisit Weberian view of power ("Macht") and the conceptualization of gender power relations.

Gender, Power and Bureaucracy

Sex is biological attributes of male and female, but through socialization, gender is socially constructed (Lovenduski 2005; Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995; Nicolson 1996; Walby 1989). Gender involves values and qualities attributed to masculinity or femininity (Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995; Nicolson 1996; Lovenduski 2005). Although gender varies across cultures, the dominant paradigm is the association of masculine values such as assertiveness, aggression and leadership being valued above feminine values associated with nurturance, submissiveness and dependence (King 1995). Gender is therefore power relations in society where masculinity has super-ordinate status over femininity (Nicolson 1996). Thus, in most cultures the social construction of gender is such that within a patriarchal society women are subordinate (Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995; Nicolson 1996; Walby 1989). The social construction of sex creates gender roles where a patriarchal power structure is maintained (Nicolson 1996). Indeed, Weber used the concept of patriarchy to refer to a system of government in which men ruled through their power positions in society (Walby 1989). These gender power relations manifest in organizations where men predominate and values of masculinity are valued (Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995; Nicolson 1996). Organizations are constructions of men due to historical employment patterns (Hakim 2004) and their predominance in society with the resulting norms reinforcing masculine power (Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995).

In society men dominate social, political and economic realms and have constructed organizations in these areas (Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995). Thus, gender manifests as power relations in organizations (Nicolson 1996; Savage and Witz 1992) where masculinity is advantaged in the organizations which men have constructed (Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995). Consequently, public and political life is the domain of men with women excluded or regarded as "other" (Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995; Mazur and Pollock 2009). Bureaucracies, embedded in modern government, are gendered since the organizational dominance of men and control of power is to the disadvantage of women (Ferguson 1984; Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995; Kelly and Newman 2001; Savage and Witz 1992). The dominance of men in these organizations and the experience of women in patriarchal power relations manifest in various ways such as discrimination, gender pay gaps and occupational gender segregation.

King's (1995) review of research and theoretical literature identified four ways in which masculine power manifests in organizations:

1. Organizations are the domain of men because men are more likely to be leaders in public and private organizations than women;

2. Most organizations are a masculine domain since expectations about gender is embedded in culture which leads to a preference for the masculine over the feminine;

3. The state is a masculine domain and therefore governance, politics and the administrative state reflects the cultural preference for masculine over feminine; and

4. Leadership and management is a masculine domain since our cultural preference for masculine can be seen in definitions of leadership (e.g. assertive, aggressive, decisive, competitive, etc).

Ferguson (1984), in her critique of bureaucracy, argues that bureaucratic power relations are conflated with gender power relations to the disadvantage of women. Similarly, other feminist scholars argue that bureaucratic characteristics: division of labor; hierarchy; consistent application of rules; formalistic impersonality and impartiality; employment based on expertise and loyalty/ longevity of service, interact in a manner which, within a patriarchal organization, marginalizes women (Savage and Witz 1992). Each of the characteristics of bureaucracy will now be explored from a feminist perspective.

Hierarchy and Division of Labor

The gender typing of women as subordinate sees women within the division of labor and hierarchical bureaucratic structures in positions of servitude because hierarchical structures allow for supervision, display of power and control of subordinates through abstract rules (Savage and Witz 1992; Ferguson 1984). In modern bureaucracies this occurs through vertical (glass ceilings) and horizontal (glass walls) occupational gender segregation. In most public bureaucracies women are concentrated in lower paid occupations with very few women reaching leadership positions (vertical occupational gender segregation) and are employed within stereotypically feminine professions such as caring roles (horizontal occupational gender segregation) (see Guy and Newman 2004; Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995; Kerr et al 2002).

Rules and Impartiality

A further feminist critique of bureaucracy is that the application of rules, impartiality and objectivity marginalizes women. Duerst-Lahti and Kelly (1995) argue that relations within organizations are constructed by men to value masculinity above femininity. Thus, the values, rules and norms within a bureaucratic organization are such that it excludes notions of femininity (Stivers 2002). Similarly, Pringle (1989) argues that apparent neutrality and impartiality in the application of rules disguises extant gender power relations. But, because these rules are constructed by men they reinforce gender power relations and the bureaucracy serves masculine interests and values (Duerst-Lahti and Kelly 1995). Thus, irrationality, emotions and partiality--associated with femininity--are not valued within public bureaucracies (ibid.). Pringle (1989) for example argues that rational, objective and impartial application of rules excludes femininity and personal values. In other words, if the social construction of femininity is of emotions and irrationality, then masculine bureaucracy would marginalize these values (Stivers 2002). Additionally, the objective and impartial application of rules exists to ensure equality before the law (ibid.), which would be inconsistent with favoring one group above another, yet the reality is that despite the existence of "impartial" laws and rules, masculinity is valued.


The other characteristics of the bureaucracy; qualifications, promotion and longevity of service as applied through rules of employment would be assumed to be objective in the application to women. However, here too women are disadvantaged. Despite the increasing number of women with qualifications and higher educational attainment, women are consistently under-employed in the form of fixed term contracts, excluded from leadership positions (see EC 2008) and face performance evaluation regimes which value masculinity (Gambles, Lewis and Rapport 2006; Miller and McTavish 2009). Gambles et al. (2006) for example argue that paid work and occupations are constructed around the ideal type employee: in full time employment, loyal commitment and dedication with life beyond work considered as peripheral. This ideal type employee is usually considered in masculine terms and women do not fit into this stereotypical view of paid employment.

Feminist scholars often draw upon Weberian bureaucratic theory--as this is arguably entrenched in modern organizations--and outline how the characteristics of bureaucracy disadvantage women (DeHart-Davis 2009). Proponents of Weberian bureaucracy would argue that the characteristics of bureaucracy, as an "ideal type," does not necessarily result in gender inequality, but it is the social construction of sex roles manifested in bureaucracies through gender power relations which create gender inequality. Yet, there is one critique which cannot be ignored--the impartial and neutral application of rules when inequality exists, is inconsistent with active representation and affects the legitimacy of public bureaucracies. Bureaucracies are not neutral and value free, rather they have to be seen within a societal context where subjectivities, values and inequality exist. At this juncture of the paper, we turn our attention to the theory of representative bureaucracy, the concepts of passive and active representation, and legitimacy of public bureaucracy.

2.3 Representative Bureaucracy Theory

The principle of representation is fundamental to democratic principles and the Weberian bureaucracy. Weber (1968) argued that legitimacy and the representation of the governed is necessary for stable, democratic government. In terms of legitimacy, representation involves the principles of standing for and acting for others (Pitkin 1967). An inherent assumption in the concept of representation is that the representative has the authority to act for others (Pitkin 1967). This assumption is founded on the principle of legitimacy where the representative has discretion to make a judgment on behalf of others' interests (Pitkin 1967). Thus, representation also involves the concepts of how and who represents the governed (Pitkin 1967). In terms of who and how people are represented, it is those actors or the governed who have given another the mandate and authority to act on their behalf--legitimacy to act. How and who represents the governed falls within the realm of passive and active representation.

Passive representation is when representatives who stand for a group by virtue of sharing similar characteristics such as race, gender, ethnicity or residence and act on their behalf to represent their interests (McBride and Mazur 2010; Wise 2003). According to Mosher (1982) passive representation is concerned with representatives, as proportion of the population, having the same demographic origins (gender, race, income, class, religion, etc.) as the population it serves. Thus, the bureaucracy "mirrors" the citizenry (Mosher 1982) and the representatives reflect the population (Pitkin 1967).

In terms of active representation, representatives actively advance the interests of a group (Mosher 1982). According to Mosher (1982) active representation is when bureaucrats act on behalf of others, making decisions that benefit a particular group of citizenry interests. The representative seeks to advance the component group's interests and preferences (McBride and Mazur 2010). Thus, it could be argued that active representation is inconsistent with the equal application of the rule of law, for one group is represented more favorably than another. There is much debate on whether active representation assumes the existence of passive representation. For example, Mansbridge (1999) argues that passive representation, descriptive characteristics often act as a proxy for identifying shared experiences which results in active representation when a person is in fact most similar to his or her constituents and substantively acts in their interests.

Representative bureaucracy theory purports that bureaucracies will be more responsive to the citizens if the bureaucrats reflect the demographic characteristics of the public they serve (Kislov and Rosenbloom 1981; Meier 1975; Saltzstein 1979). Kingsley (1944) argued, after his study of the British civil service, that senior bureaucrats did not represent the dominant social class and consequently the civil service could not be considered as a legitimate representative institution. Similarly, other studies by Levitan (1946), Long (1952), Van Riper (1958), Krislov (1974), and Krislov and Rosenbloom (1981), with research on the race, gender and ethnicity of bureaucrats, argued that the bureaucracy which did not include the demographic profile of the population could not be considered representative and thus legitimate.

Representative bureaucracy scholars in general argue that a representative bureaucracy involves public bureaucracies, consisting of a cross-section of the population, serving the citizenry in a responsive manner, consistent with the ethos of legitimacy and democracy (see for example Brudney, Herbet and Wright 2000; Cayer and Siegleman 1980; Dolan 2000; Dometrius 1984; Hindera 1993; Hindera and Young 1998; Keiser, Wilkins, Meier and Holland, 2002; Meier 1975; Meier and Nicolson-Crotty, 2006; Mosher 1982; Rehfuss 1986; Riccucci 1987; Riccucci and Saidel, 1997; Saltzstein 1983; 1986; Selden, Brudney and Kellough 1998; Weldon 2002; Wilkins 2006; Wilkins and Keiser 2004; Wise 2003).

Scholarly research in the area of representative bureaucracy has focused on increasing levels of passive representation and the factors which enable active representation. According to Meier (1975) there are three conditions which underpin active representation: (1) bureaucracies formulate and implement policy; (2) bureaucrats are able to exercise discretion within the parameters of political control and legal constraints; and (3) bureaucracies confront wider issues of responsibility and legitimacy in democracies. Various studies have shown that there is a relationship between administrative discretion and policy outcomes for particular clientele, i.e. the more discretion bureaucrats perceive themselves to have, the more likely they will produce outcomes that benefit minorities (see Meier and Stewart 1992; Meier 1993; Scott 1997; Thielemann and Stewart 1996; Meier and Bohte 2001; Riccucci and Meyers 2003; Sowa and Selden 2003).

Other studies have revealed that the policy area must be salient for the demographic characteristics in question--the implementation of the policy must benefit a group (Mosher 1993; Wilkins and Keiser 2004; Keiser et al 2002; Wise 2003)--in the context of this paper it would be considered as gendered policy areas. According to Keiser et al. (2002), a gendered policy is one which directly affects women as a class or group. Furthermore, the gender of the bureaucrat is important in the relationship between citizen and bureaucrat where a female bureaucrat acts in the interests of women (ibid.). A policy area is also gendered if it is defined as a "women's issue" through the political process (ibid.). Kelly and Newman's (2001) study showed a relationship between the type of agency and policy area in terms of passive and active representation. Their research revealed that distributive, redistributive or regulatory policy areas, congruent with women's interests resulted in greater passive representation and affected the extent of active representation (Kelly and Newman 2001). There have been various studies which have revealed that female bureaucrats will actively represent women as a class in gendered policy areas [see Wilkins and Keiser (2004); Wilkins (2006) studies on child support benefits; Meier and Nicholson-Crotty (2006) research of law enforcement and sexual assault cases].

Another dimension to the translation of passive to active representation is authority. Dolan (2000; 2001) in her research found that when women are represented at senior echelons of bureaucracies with compensate authority, they actively represent women. Women in senior positions are more likely to take the risk of representing other women as they had reached the pinnacle of their careers (Dolan 2000). Although very few women reach positions of authority within public bureaucracies, there is emerging evidence that there are women who reach senior positions of authority and who actively represent women as a class. A neologism for women within public bureaucracies who act on behalf of other women is "femocrat" (Chappell 2002a). In some sense it has been used pejoratively by conservative ideologues who view the "special interest" given to women as contrary to bureaucratic norms (ibid.). This is consistent with arguments by proponents of Weberian bureaucracy. Nonetheless, some women in public bureaucracies have appropriated the term to define themselves positively as female bureaucrats in positions of authority with an ideological and political commitment to feminism (ibid.).

Much of the research in this area has identified discretion, the policy area and authority as salient factors in the translation of passive to active representation. To what extent is there passive and active representation in the EU and its institutions of governance?

3. Representation in the EU?

EC (2008; 2010a) data reveals a pattern of vertical and horizontal occupational gender segregation within national administrations. Vertical occupational gender segregation is evident with female representation in senior positions of EU 27 national public administration being on average, 25.9% (EC 2010a: 53-55; Council of European Union 2008). Much has been written about the under-representation and paucity of women into senior levels of EU institutions (see Kantola 2010). In terms of horizontal gender segregation within EU 27 national administrations, women are concentrated in social and cultural policy areas (37%) (e.g. health, education and care) and to a lesser extent in basic functions (e.g. internal affairs), economic portfolios (e.g. finance) and infrastructural areas (e.g. transport) (EC 2010a). This pattern of horizontal occupational segregation is repeated throughout the public sector in Europe. In health and social work services women account for 80% of employment and 70% in the education sector (EC 2008:56). There is also evidence of occupational gender segregation in the European Civil Service which provides administrative (policy and legislative decision making support) and assistance (secretarial, clerical and support work) functions to the EC, European Parliament, Council of the European Union, European Court of Justice and the European Court of Auditors. In terms of vertical segregation, men dominate the most senior positions within the Service with representation at approximately 70%, and within administrative and assistant grades, 81% and 76% respectively (EC 2010a). Furthermore, there is a high proportion of female employment in assistant (service) compared to administrative (decision making and advice) functions (EC 2010a). Although, women account for the majority of those employed as assistants (65%), there is a high proportion of men at senior levels of assistant grades (ibid.). Feminist scholars would argue that the occupational gender segregation, with women in subservient and subordinate positions within the public bureaucracy hierarchy (vertical gender occupational segregation) and the division of labor (horizontal gender occupational segregation), is evidence of gender power relations (see Savage and Witz 1992) within EU institutions.

The evidence suggests that public bureaucracy, as an agency of the state which implements public policy and delivers services for the public good, falls short in achieving positive outcomes for women. For example, a 243 page report by the EC provides an egregious account of gender inequality in service delivery and policy outcomes: women are more likely to live in poverty (EC 2008: 91); women are concentrated in a relatively small number of sectors and in lower paid jobs (EC 2008: 53-57); women are less likely to hold managerial or decision making positions (EC 2008: 62-63); more women than men are employed on fixed term contracts of employment (EC 2008: 78-79); etc.--all of which impacts upon the economic and social status, quality of life and opportunities for women. Eurostat (2) (2011) data also reveal patterns of gender discrimination, for example the average gender pay gap for EU 27 countries in 2009 was 17.1%. Despite the transposition of EU directives and policies (rules) to member countries, arguably the pervasive masculinity in public bureaucracies contributes to the implementation gap (see Kantola 2010). The EU has enacted a number of laws and policies, which explicitly and implicitly, seek to promote gender equality--for example: Council Directive 75/117/EEC of 10 February 1975 relating to the principle of equal pay for men and women; Council Directive 76/207/EEC of 9 February 1976 established the principle of equal treatment for men and women with regards to access to employment, vocational training and promotion and working conditions; Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 established a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation, consistent with the Treaty on the EU (specifically, Articles 3(2) and 6); and Council Directive 2006/54/EC of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation, being the most recent directive. However, successive directives have not sufficiently addressed gender inequality within member countries despite the transposition of the directives (Kantola 2010). A document published by the EC (2009) reveals that laws and directives relating to gender equality represent the highest number of infringement proceedings within the sector of employment, social affairs and equal opportunities. In 2008, although all member countries transposed the above mentioned directives, 20 member countries received letters of formal notice, complementary letters of formal notice, reasoned opinions or complementary reasoned opinion (EC 2009: 72). The EC (2009:75) concluded with a concern over the number of infringements related to gender equality directives. Cop's (2005:21) analysis of the implementation of gender equality by core EU law and concepts in equal treatment directives found that member countries " ... may not boast a long-standing or advanced 'equality culture."' Similarly, a report authored by Burri and Prechal (2009) on the transposition of the Recast Directive 2006/54/EC, commissioned by the EC, reveals that there is a lack of, or partial transposition of the Directive into national law in some of the member countries. Arguably, the transposition and implementation of gender equality law has been problematic (Kantola 2010).

The EU has attempted to address gender inequality in policy outcomes by adopting gender mainstreaming, which is the " ... (re)organization, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies at all levels and at all stages, by actors normally involved in policy-making" (Council of Europe 1998:15). However, the implementation of mainstreaming gender equality in policy has been problematic as well. Various studies have revealed superficial compliance (Hafner-Burton and Pollack 2009; Weaver 2008; Kantola 2010), the cooption of gender mainstreaming to favour other policy priorities (Stratigaki 2004; European Women's Lobby 2007; Hafner-Burton and Pollack 2009), and/or the disappearance of gender equality from the policy agenda once transposition takes place (Verloo 2001; Woodward 2003; Miller 2009). In some countries in the EU where gender mainstreaming has been adopted, women policy units within national administrations became defunct. Additionally, Veitch (2005) observed that the gender mainstreaming in public policy became a technocratic "tick box" exercise. Similarly, Stratigaki's (2004:50) study of the implementation of gender mainstreaming in policy processes reveals that: "The process of cooption of the gender equality concept ... exemplifies how the outcome of conflicting policy frames in the EU is shaped, as well as how policy opportunities and barriers are evolving throughout the project of European integration ... the policy goal of involving flexibility of the labor market eventually prevailed over gender equality objectives for framing reconciliation, resulting in the cooption of the concept. This cooption transformed and corrupted its meaning." It has left many feminist scholars to argue that the implementation of gender mainstreaming across European national administration has to a large extent been limited (see Hafner-Burton and Pollack 2009; Stratgaki 2004; 2005; Verloo 2001; Kantola 2010). Even the EC has acknowledged that the mainstreaming of gender equality has not been achieved and hence the latest road map. The implementation gap is explained by Stratgaki (2005) who argues that it is difficult to implement gender mainstreaming effectively when there are embedded masculine cultural values.

In view of continued transposition infringements and persistent gender inequality in member countries in terms of employment, arguably there is a gap between enacted EU law and member countries' implementation of gender equality policies (Kantola 2010). Moreover, from a feminist critique of bureaucracy, if there were the consistent, rational application of rules on an impartial and objective basis then arguably, EU and national member countries' gender equality rules and laws would result in some indices of gender equality. The EC's own data (as discussed above) provides evidence to suggest this is not the case. One could conclude that the bureaucratic organization is constructed in a manner with rules which preserve and maintain gender power relations.

The EU is a system of MLG, which poses a number of questions in terms of representative bureaucracy. How does representation manifest in MLG? Does MLG offer opportunities for active representation of women? Does MLG offer women more discretion and authority within policy areas? These questions are considered and discussed in the following section of the paper towards a research agenda.

4. Feminism and Multilevel Governance

There has been much research in the area of MLG (see for example Marks 1993; Marks et al. 1996; Hooghe and Marks 2001; Pierre and Peters 2000; Bache and Jones 2000; Borzel 1997; Radealli 2001), but less research on feminist perspectives of MLG (Peters and Pierre 2000; Waylen 2008). According to Mazur (2002), there are generally four types of feminist analyses of the state and governance:

1. A focus on policy formulation and the way in which public policy makers promote women's status and address gender inequality. Feminist scholars study the actors, obstacles, content and the process. Here the analysis is on policy processes, the politics of the process but not necessarily the impact on society. It is not that these scholars ignore how policy impacts women as a class, but they recognize the difficulty of uniquely attributing changes in gender relations in women's status to a set of specific policies. Nonetheless, there is a volume of published research in this area (see for example Lipmen-Blauman and Bernard 1979; Diamond 1983; Buckley and Anderson 1988; Bayes 1991; Lewis 1993; Chow and Berheide 1996; Brodie 1996; Burrell 1997; Gardiner 1997; Bacchi 1999; Conway, Ahern and Steuernagel 1999; Cichowski 2000; Hantrais 2000 as cited in Mazur 2002).

2. The study of feminist movements and their interface with the state and policy process. Feminist scholars observe how, why and whether women's or feminist movements' ideas and actions are translated into public policy. Here the focus is on examining the activities of women's movements and how these movements interact with the state through policy formulation and other state activities such as women's or equality policy offices. The main issue of concern is the success of women's movements in influencing the content of public policy or how these movements frame public policy in the interests of women as a class (see for example Gamson 1988; Snow and Benford 1992; Beckwith 2000; Outshoorn 1986; 1988; 1992; 1994; 1996; 1997; 1998; 2001 as cited in Mazur 2002).

3. The study of state feminism considers whether state institutions and actors promote feminism. Here the focus is on female actors in state policy arenas, the gendered nature of state bureaucracies and structures that influence women's roles, and the activities of women in policy machineries. The focus of study is usually on women's policy offices and femocrats (see for example Borchorst 1999; van der Ross 1995; Outshoorn 1998 as cited in Mazur 2002; Lovenduski 2005; Kelly and Newman 2001; Chappell 2002a). It is within area of study that representative bureaucracy theory is usually located.

4. The final analysis is whether the welfare state is an obstacle or promoter of gender discrimination and equality. Much of the scholarship explores the link between women and men's roles in the public and private domains in relation to policies of the welfare state. Here the focus is on the impact of welfare policies on the status of women. The attention is often on how non-feminist policies affect women and increasingly the scholarship has examined policies related to male and female caring roles (see for example Bacchi 1996; Bellace 1991; Cockburn 1989; Cook 1989; Corcoran and Donnelly 1988; Good 1998; Hoskyns 2001; Kahn and Meehan 1992; Pillinger 1992; Steinberg-Ratner and Cook 1988; Rees 1995; 1998 as cited in Mazur 2002).

A review of the literature reveals that much of the research analyses (1 to 4) are from the perspective of specific gendered policy areas such as sex discrimination, reproductive rights, gender-based violence, employment rights and practices. Furthermore, the research is usually focused on the interface between non-state actors, making representation on behalf of women as a class, to state actors in order to influence the policy process. The research also tends to be located within a national polity with occasional reference to supranational and sub-national levels. For example, the research may explore the issues of abortion, work-life balance or prostitution; how the policy was formulated; the influence of women's movements in the formulation of the policy; the interaction with the state; the role of policy makers within a specific country; etc. (see for example Victorin 1991 on equal pay in Sweden; Wiik 1986 on abortion in Norway; Ursel on gender violence in Canada; Valiente 1995 on sexual harassment in Spain as cited in Mazur 2002). The review of the extant research also reveals that feminism within the context of MLG is sparse (Haussman, Sawer and Vickers 2010). Nonetheless, research does reveal mixed opportunities to promote the representation of women and gender equality within a MLG context. In one of the first comprehensive volumes on feminism and MLG, Haussman et al. (2010) consider: political architecture of the state; the extent of MLG; the affect on the structuring of women's movements; the extent to which the architecture provides open or closed policy making venues; and the impact on policy outcomes for women. The contributory authors of the volume provide case studies of countries, with varying degrees of MLG architecture, with the editors providing a comparative analysis of the cases. Haussman et al.'s (2010) analysis provides some illuminating findings:

1. MLG creates opportunities for women's political activism through access to multiple policy making sites; enables forum shopping which allows women to work around blockages at one level of governance to take advantage of another; and policy innovations in one jurisdiction are transferred to others.

2. In some cases MLG has allowed for better policy outcomes for women. For example, Mahon and Collier's (2010) study in Quebec, Canada revealed that in comparison to other provinces, there were improved child-care policies in part because of the nationalist commitment to reconciling paid work and child-rearing which benefitted women in employment practices. This is a similar case in Germany as MacRae's (2010) study revealed that female politicians used women-friendly discourses, underpinned by EU directives, to contest patriarchal policies favored by the federal and Lander governments. Women's movements supported by the political will of female politicians drew upon EU and sub-national governments to promote parental leave policies.

3. MLG could however present obstacles to feminist policy activity. Some of the case studies in the volume showed that multiple levels of governance allowed policy makers to shift responsibility from one level to another--akin to a "ping pong" game and frustrated policy initiatives which would benefit women. Chandler's (2010) contribution to the volume, with a case study of Russia, show that women's representation was marginal within the federal state due to the central elite's unwillingness to promote gender equality and advancement of disadvantaged groups.

4. MLG provides women with dual citizenship with citizen rights enabled by levels of government. The case in point would be UN declarations and EU directives and policies with the transposition to member countries to promote gender equality. Normatively, women would have access to multiple sites of citizen and human rights guarantees.

5. An effect of MLG is the "hollowing out" of women's movement. The case which illustrates the argument is that of Canada where childcare advocacy groups were organized separately in the various provinces of Canada, but under the auspices of the Childcare Advocacy Association of Canada. The advocacy groups attempted to influence government at local, provincial and the national levels with their capacity being "hollowed out" and various policy outcomes in different provinces.

6. In constitutional settlements of political architecture and in intergovernmental forums women's voices are often silent. Public bureaucracies with regards to MLG forums exclude women from constitutional and policy making. Other studies in this area (Findlay 2011; Gray 2006; Liebert 2010 and Chappell 2002a; 2002b) reveal a complex array of interactions between MLG and the policy processes with some optimistic conclusions that MLG provides opportunities for women's movements to influence policies that benefit women and promote gender equality, although this depends on the political architecture of the state. Nonetheless, MLG framing has the advantage of capturing a multiplicity of feminist interfaces within and out-with the state to include transnational, supranational, national and sub-national sites, as well as the network of policy activities between state and non-state actors (Haussman et al. 2010). Although feminism within the context of MLG is an under-research area, there is emerging scholarship such as the studies mentioned above and research cited therein as well as a recent workshop on feminism and state architectures organized by Chappell and Meier for the European Consortium for Political Research Conference in April 2011. However, as mentioned these studies tend to focus on the interface between state and non-state actors in networks and across MLG, often from the lens of a particular gendered policy area. Seldom is there research which explores representative bureaucracy within a MLG context. How do bureaucrats implement policies across MLG to actively represent women? Do bureaucrats exercise discretion at various levels of government to implement policies which benefit women as a class? How do female bureaucrats in positions of authority, at various levels of government, implement policies to benefit women? Do femocrats act collectively at various levels of government to actively represent women as a class? How do bureaucrats interface with women's movements at multiple levels of government? What is the relationship between passive and active representation in a MLG context? As much of these questions remain un-answered a research agenda is proposed.

4.1 Research Agenda

A review of research and literature in the area of MLG reveals a number of gaps, particularly feminist and representative bureaucracy perspectives. To address this, a set of hypotheses is suggested as an area of further investigation, illustrated in Figure 1. Passive and active representation for the purposes of the research agenda has been conceptualized in the preceding section of this paper. In terms of this research agenda, the author is referring to MLG as multilevel systems of government (3) including federal and devolved systems. In other words MLG in this context is viewed as a spectrum: the extent to which the state is centralized to decentralized.

The first hypothesis is that where the political architecture of the state is such that there exists a greater degree of MLG (federalism, devolution or decentralization) together with higher levels of passive representation, then it is more likely that active representation will occur. Countries such as Canada, Australia and those in the Nordic region, with a political architecture which has a relatively greater degree of MLG and relatively higher levels of female passive representation in public administration, could be case in point where there is evidence to suggest active representation of women (see Chappell 2002b).

H1: higher levels of passive representation and MLG will result in active representation.

H0: low levels of passive representation and MLG will result less active representation.

The null hypothesis would be when there are low levels of passive representation and a lesser extent of MLG, then active representation is less likely. An illustrative case would be Hungary which is a relatively unitary state and has low levels of female passive representation in public administration (for example in the national public administration female representation at levels 1 and 2 is 15% and 30%, respectively--Eurostat 2011). Arguably the relatively poor indices of gender equality in Hungary (for example adjusted gender pay gap is 17.1% and material deprivation for women is 41.5%--Eurostat 2011) may allude to poor active representation of women in public policy.


The second hypothesis is when the political architecture has greater levels of MLG but there are low levels of passive representation of women, then active representation is likely if bureaucrats have the discretion to act on behalf of a particular group. The United States could probably be categorized within this spectrum as it has a relatively decentralized political architecture with federalism and there are low levels of female passive representation at senior levels of public bureaucracies (see Dolan 2001). However, where there exists higher levels female passive representation at sub-national levels and at lower levels of public bureaucracies, the research (see for example Hindera 1993; Hindera and Young 1998; Keiser, Wilkins, Meier and Holland, 2002; Meier 1975; Meier and Nicolson-Crotty, 2006; Riccucci 1987; Riccucci and Saidel, 1997; Saltzstein 1983; 1986; Selden, Brudney and Kellough 1998; Weldon 2002; Wilkins 2006; Wilkins and Keiser 2004; Wise 2003) reveals that female bureaucrats with discretion are more likely to actively represent women. In an EU context, Germany could also be categorized within this spectrum with a federal political architecture but low levels of female passive representation in public administration. For example, the passive representation of women in Germany's national public administration reveals 12% and 17% representation of women at levels 1 and 2, respectively (Eurostat 2011). However, as MacRae's (2010) analysis of the child-care policy process showed, active representation took place when femocrats, supported by political will and women's movements, had the discretion to challenge masculine norms of employment to produce a policy outcome to the benefit of women and children.

H2: low levels of passive representation, but with a greater extent of MLG, will result in active representation if discretion exists.

The final hypothesis is when there are relatively low levels of MLG but high levels of passive representation then active representation is likely if female bureaucrats have the authority to act on behalf of women as a class. Slovenia could potentially be categorized within this spectrum as it is has a relatively unitary political architecture with high levels of passive representation in public administration. Slovenia has one of the highest rates of female representation in public administration in Europe. For example at the national administration female representation at level 1 is 47% and at level 2.59% (Eurostat 2011). There are also some relatively good indices of gender equality with one of the lowest adjusted gender pay gaps in Europe (3.2%) and low levels of female material deprivation (16.9%) (Eurostat 2011). Arguably, it could be an indication of active representation, but is dependent on women being in a position of authority within public bureaucracies to actively represent women.

H3: high levels of passive representation, but low levels of MLG, will result in active representation only if authority to act exists.

Figure 1 illustrates these hypotheses within a context of policy area. As extant research (see Kelly and Newman 2001; Keiser 2002) shows, the context in which passive representation is translated to active representation is within policy areas which are gendered and impact upon women as a class. Since much of the extant research is within the context of gendered policy areas, the variable of policy area has to be included in the research agenda as a contextual or mediating factor. Figure 1 also illustrates a spectrum of representative bureaucracy and MLG political architectures. The discussion above suggests how various countries could be categorized within the spectrum as well as accommodating nuanced political architectures, for example the UK as a unitary state but with increasing devolved and divergent polities.

5. Conclusion

This paper sought to outline theories of bureaucracy, specifically from a feminist perspective. It argued that the value attributed to masculinity in society manifests in bureaucracies which creates patriarchal gender power relations to the disadvantage of women. The paper illustrated this point by discussing the characteristics of Weberian bureaucracy--still relevant to modern public bureaucracies--and provided a feminist critique of each of these characteristics. Moreover, the paper provided a theoretical discussion of representative bureaucracy vis-a-vis Weberian bureaucracy and legitimacy. To this regard the concepts of passive and active representation, and the factors of discretion, policy area and authority, which enabled the translation of passive to active representation, were discussed. It is important to consider in this context that pervasive characteristics of Weberian bureaucracy such as meritorious selection and promotion, based on the neutral application of the rule of law, still do not address gender inequality as the evidence suggests. This has raised a number of research questions in terms of representation within public bureaucracies.

MLG was discussed, drawing upon extant feminist research, to provide perspectives of active representation of women in policy processes. Although this is an emerging area of research, much of the research is focused on the involvement of non-state actors such as women's movement in the policy process, with some findings which suggest that MLG offers women more opportunities and sites of active representation. However, less research is focused on female bureaucrats within a MLG context. As such this paper has provided a research agenda with a set of hypotheses based on extant research. These hypotheses however remain untested and it is suggested that if supranational organizations such as the EC and member countries of the EU are serious about gender equality and social inclusion, then it essential that investment and research should be supported to investigate how to increase the passive representation of women, how passive representation is translated into active representation, and how MLG can offer a framework to create opportunities of active representation in policy implementation and outcomes. Mazur (2009) in her analysis of gender funded research found that since 1995 to 2010 there have been nine such funded research projects across Europe with a significant contribution to the scholarship of feminist comparative policy. Nonetheless, as Mazur and Pollack (2010:7) argue that: "Mapping and explaining national variations in implementation and outcomes of gendered public policy can and should be the focus of the next generation of large, publicly funded, cross national research projects." In the recent years the EC FP7 funding framework has included funding calls for gender-based research, but these have limited funding and either narrowly focused on gender equality in a specific sector (improving the passive representation of women in science) or subsumed into a large research agenda of social cohesion. There is nonetheless recognition within the EU of the importance of improving the representation of women in public administration. For example, under the Slovenian Presidency a review report, authored by Antic Gaber, was commissioned to report to the EU on the representation of women in political and public decision making roles (Council of the European Union 2008). The collection and publication of data such as the Eurostat databases with indices of gender inequality (e.g. adjusted gender pay gap per member country) provide useful data for the study of gender within the EU. However, this data remains at the national, macro level and does not included disaggregated data for sub-national levels of government. Furthermore, although the data provides useful indicators of gender inequality, attempting to determine the relationship between policy and the implementation and outcomes thereof, particularly across multiple levels of governance, is an arduous task. Research which could provide further evidence of the link between active representation and the implementation and outcomes of policies within MLG would be a valuable contribution to scholarship in this area. Moreover, it would provide evidence on public service delivery and ways to improve the quality of life for women.

In conclusion it is suggested that feminist perspectives be included in the analyses of bureaucracy, public policy and MLG. Scholarly research in this area should be encouraged and is particularly relevant as the EU and indeed many other countries struggle to address issues of social inclusion and cohesion, particularly within a global economy where women, and their dependents, are often disadvantaged in a patriarchal economy and society.


An earlier version of this paper was presented at the European Group for Public Administration (EGPA) Annual Conference, 2011, in Bucharest, Romania. The author is grateful to the conference chairs, Professors Michael Bauer, Edoardo Ongaro and Andrew Massey, and participants for their feedback and comments.


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Glasgow Caledonian University


(1.) Although the citations in this paper are attributed to Max Weber, the author draws upon his translated works. These translations were undertaken by Roth and Wittich (1968), Gerth and Mills (1946) and Henderson and Parsons (1947), but are referenced in the paper and bibliography as Weber (1946; 1947; 1968).

(2.) Eurostat databases were used for empirical evidence for this paper see search_database (accessed March to May 2011).

(3.) I am grateful to Prof. Michael Keating for this view of MLG in the context of this paper.
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Author:Miller, Karen Johnston
Publication:Geopolitics, History, and International Relations
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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