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date: 25 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article provides a synopsis of how the metaphorical rather than theory-driven nature of the understanding of the evolution of administrative reform movements in America is grounded in the interaction of two forces: the dominance of the ‘normal science’ models in the social sciences and in academic publication standards. It also shows how conceptual frameworks derived from the work of historical institutionalists studying American political development (APD) offer a ‘third-way’ bridge between the two forces, a framework that also helps account for the persistence of best business practice (BBP), market and quasi-market, and nongovernmental ‘solutions’ to administrative reforms throughout American history. Then, the article describes the claim that an adaptation of Herbert Hoover's vision has overtaken FDR's view of the metes, bounds, and roles of the federal bureaucracy. It finally presents the implications of all this for future research on American bureaucracy.

Keywords: Herbert Hoover, American bureaucracy, historical institutionalism, American political development, market, administrative reforms, federal bureaucracy

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