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date: 16 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The study of ministerial leadership suffers from lack of access and cross-country variation. The available literature shows that the leadership of cabinet ministers, although real, is constrained. In homogeneous single-party governments, the prime minister, as the party leader, is in a strong position, but collective cabinet meetings are less decisive. In coalition governments it is the other way around: the prime minister is in a weaker position, at least with respect to ministers from other parties, but collective decision-making is more important. The literature provides no evidence that ministers who are specialized technocrats face fewer constraints than ministers who are generalist politicians: in ministerial recruitment the distinction is not very stark and seems to be fading. What is particularly lacking is research into the psychological factors affecting ministerial leadership.

Keywords: cabinet ministers, generalists, specialists, prime minister, collective decision-making, political–administrative relations

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