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10 - Working, Shirking, and Sabotage in Times of Democratic Backsliding: An Experimental Study in Brazil

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2021

Michael W. Bauer
Affiliation:
German University of Administrative Sciences, Speyer
B. Guy Peters
Affiliation:
University of Pittsburgh
Jon Pierre
Affiliation:
University of Gothenberg
Kutsal Yesilkagit
Affiliation:
Universiteit Leiden
Stefan Becker
Affiliation:
German University of Administrative Sciences, Speyer
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Summary

In times of democratic backsliding and electorally successful populist leaders, it becomes relevant to identify which actors could function as gatekeepers of institutional and policy change. Would civil servants be willing to act as veto players by refusing to implement policies that undermine democratic institutions? We provide preliminary answers to this question based on a set of survey experiments conducted with Brazilian bureaucrats. Using the triad “working, shirking, and sabotage” (Brehm and Gates 1999), our results confirm that civil servants are willing to shirk and sabotage if assigned to implement policies that are perceived to restrict democratic rights, such as the freedoms of press and expression. Furthermore, we demonstrate how different individual characteristics affect the bureaucrats’ intention to behave in these situations.

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Chapter
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Democratic Backsliding and Public Administration
How Populists in Government Transform State Bureaucracies
, pp. 221 - 245
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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