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Varieties of administrative convergence

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The aim of this paper is to explore the possible varieties of convergence in the public administrations of members of the European Union, as well as the framework for analysing aspects of convergence. It assists students of comparative public administration who attempt to understand “puzzles” triggered by NPM and EU pressures. These pressures seem to push national systems in opposite directions, and not to be united as a single force for a particular model. At the same time, however, both involve assertive action by government to achieve reform in the face of inertia or hostility of public bureaucracies anxious to preserve their traditional arrangements. The paper suggests that the answer to the question “Are West European administrative systems becoming more alike?” cannot be simply “yes” or “no”. With the impact of NPM the answer must be “more than they used to”, but as a trend toward a common destination, “no”. With the impact of the EU the answer must be “yes” and “no” depending on which aspect of an administrative system is being examined.

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