The Question of Roles and Identities in Public Administration

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The article argues that we need to open up the question of what it means to be a civil servant today to understand the key characteristics of public administration in contemporary western democracies. The role of the civil servant is characterized by a multitude of expectations deriving from old and new role demands that exist side by side. In this sense the role is constituted by different archaeological layers. Which layers become the dominant ones are not given, but are widely dependent on the context within which the role is enacted and on the civil servant's individual role interpretation. The article presents the results of a case study carried out within three Danish Ministries on the role of the civil servant. It is shown how differently the role is interpreted in the Danish State Administration depending on which of the archaeological layers are activated, and how these different interpretations all lead to role conflict for the individual civil servant.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalScandinavian Political Studies
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)469-490
    Number of pages22
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • Role Analysis
    • Danish State Administration
    • Identity
    • Public Adminisration

    Cite this