Do Professional Bureaucracies Expand the State Capacity for Implementing Policies? Governments, Bureaucrats, and Legislation in Brazilian Municipalities

André Marenco About the author


This article develops an analysis of data on the professional status and educational background of public servants working in the core administration of 5.5 thousand Brazilian municipalities. Taking “public servants with higher education” as a proxy for identifying professional bureaucrats, we sought to determine the scale of participation in the municipal public service and the extent to which a greater proportion of servants recruited by means of an entrance exam, involving job stability and further education, may be associated with a greater chance of implementing an agenda of urban policies. The results indicate that even when controlled by demographic or electoral variables, the presence of professional bureaucracy served as a reliable link to an increased chance of introducing regulatory legislation on the urban space in Brazilian municipalities. Immune to electoral and governmental cycles, professional bureaucrats may utilize various technical and informative resources as well as political and organizational incentives for offsetting the decisions based on heavy political pressure generated by this kind of legislation.

bureaucracies; state capacity; local policies; municipal government; urban policies

Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Políticos (IESP) da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) R. da Matriz, 82, Botafogo, 22260-100 Rio de Janeiro RJ Brazil, Tel. (55 21) 2266-8300, Fax: (55 21) 2266-8345 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil