chapter  3
16 Pages

What’s wrong with Whitehall? Mandarins and ways of thinking in British government


Introduction Some complaints about bureaucracies are repetitious, little considered and boring: for example, the claims that senior officials are merely self-interested rent-seekers. From time to time, more interesting critiques of the training and education of high-level bureaucracy are offered. These critiques are not necessarily correct or even convincing answers to pressing problems. The discussion of these critiques that follows is not an empirical examination of the senior civil service or the empirical soundness of those critiques but is rather a discussion of how these critiques illuminate thinking about the skills required in governing. Critiques of the senior civil service are revealing of contemporary expectations about how government should think and the educational and intellectual grounding that is required.