Bureau-shaping model

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Bureau-shaping is a rational choice model of bureaucracy and a response to the budget-maximization model. It argues that rational officials will not want to maximize their budgets, but instead to shape their agency so as to maximize their personal utilities from their work. For instance, bureaucrats would prefer to work in small, elite agencies close to political power centres and doing interesting work, rather than to run large-budget agencies with many staff but also many risks and problems. For the same reasons, and to avoid risks, the bureau-shaping model also predicts that senior government bureaucrats will often favour either 'agencification' to other public sector bodies (as in the UK 'Next Steps' programme) or off-loading functions to contractors and privatization. In the health and social work fields, officials will favour 'deinstitutionalization' and 'care in the community'. The model was developed by Patrick Dunleavy from the London School of Economics in Democracy, Bureaucracy and Public Choice (London: Pearson Education, 1991, reissued 2001).