Journal of Public Policy


Control Over Bureaucracy: Cultural Theory and Institutional Variety

Christopher Hooda1

a1 Government, London School of Economics*


The grid-group cultural theory of Mary Douglas is used to produce a basic categorization of polar approaches to control over public administration and management and to illuminate the selfdisequilibrating dynamics of public administration control systems. The four polar types are based on contrived randomness, competition, mutuality and review. The self-disequilibrating processes work through a combination of mutual repulsion among the polar types and the inherent limitations of each type, which will tend to produce more serious side-effects and reverse effects the more emphasis is placed on any one type. Six hybrid types of control are discussed as simple pairwise combinations of the four polar types, but such hybrids are also likely to be unstable. The approach used here appears at least as good on three criteria as any other current available classification of controls over public administration and it offers a distinctive agenda for examining control design and outcomes.


* An earlier version of this paper was presented to the staff research seminar, Institut for Statskundskab, University of Copenhagen, in March 1995. I am grateful to the participants for their comments and particularly to Torben Beck Jorgensen and Jacob Christensen. I am also indebted to Mary Douglas, Andrew Dunsire, Desmond King, Guy Peters and Richard Rose for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper, and gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Leverhulme Trust and from the ESRC (Grant No L124251015).