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date: 15 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article looks at public bureaucracies, which are considered to be the locus of government action. It examines three key puzzles. The first is that bureaucratic actions are the locus of governmental power. The second is that much of the work of bureaucracy happens through the coordination of complex activities. The third puzzle shows that such power is important for democratic government, both to protect it from forces that try to destroy it and to empower it to do what the people want to be done. The article also includes a section on the challenges for public bureaucracies and the impulse for reform.

Keywords: public bureaucracies, government action, bureaucratic action, governmental power, coordination, democratic government, challenges, reform

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