Representative Bureaucracy in Action
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Representative Bureaucracy in Action

Country Profiles from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia

Edited by B. Guy Peters, Patrick von Maravić and Eckhard Schröter

Taking a comparative and analytical perspective, the authoritatively, yet accessibly written, country chapters show how salient the politics of representativeness have become in increasingly diverse societies. At the same time, they illustrate the wide variety of practice based on different political systems, administrative structures, and cultural settings.
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Chapter 9: Representative bureaucracy in the Netherlands

Frits M. van der Meer and Gerrit S.A. Dijkstra


In the current Dutch political and societal climate, a discussion on representative bureaucracy and diversity in the public sector workforce focusing on ethnic minorities could be considered controversial, to say the least, by some in Dutch society. Since the early 2000s, discussions on the pros and cons of multiculturalism in society have become highly polarized mostly along left/center and right-wing dividing lines. We will return to this appreciation of representativeness and diversity management later on in this chapter. Nevertheless, during the last decade representativeness and its current manifestation diversity (management) have become integral parts of the HRM agenda of most Dutch public sector organizations. Given the scope of the topic, the aim of this chapter is to present an overview of, examine the changing discussions, and debate on representative bureaucracy and diversity relating to the dimension of ethnicity in the Netherlands. In addition, we will present relevant empirical data. We will examine the shift from representative bureaucracy to diversity (management) and try to assess to what extent formulated ambitions have produced tangible results.

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