On why public servants must cultivate their own watchdogs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: The article seeks to argue for an engaged civil service to foster a vibrant citizenry, essential in and of itself to sustain democracy especially during a time of turmoil. Design/methodology/approach: The article is based on an extensive review of the literature. Findings: Using the US as an example, the author argues that citizens have traditionally engaged in public life when political elites developed the infrastructure required for mass participation. Political elites no longer have an incentive to do so, as they can now pursue their agenda more efficiently through other means. The resulting decline in opportunities for social learning, however, highlights the importance of reinvigorating civil society to one remaining category of political elite - public servants. Originality/value: A critical review, the article reaffirms the negative consequences of declining civil society at a time when increasingly complex public problems, such as those posed by the global financial and economic crisis, require decisive and collaborative government action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-162
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Public Sector Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • Citizen engagement
  • Citizenship
  • Civil service
  • Governance
  • Mobilization
  • Political elites
  • Public administration
  • Public services


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