This Research Note explores the political dynamics of bureaucratic turnover.
It argues that changes in a government’s policy objectives can shift both
political screening strategies and bureaucratic selection strategies, which
produces turnover of agency personnel. To buttress this conjecture, it
analyzes a unique dataset tracing the careers of all agency heads in the
Swedish executive bureaucracy between 1960 and 2014. It shows that, despite
serving on fixed terms and with constitutionally protected decision-making
powers, Swedish agency heads are considerably more likely to leave their
posts following partisan shifts in government. The note concludes that, even
in institutional systems seemingly designed to insulate bureaucratic
expertise from political control, partisan politics can shape the
composition of agency personnel.