Representative bureaucracy and bureaucratic responsiveness : linking passive and active representation in Ghana's education bureaucracy
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] Over the years, scholars have examined representative bureaucracy as a viable means to achieve bureaucratic responsiveness in a democratic society. The theory argues that a diverse public service that mirrors the social demographics of its population in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity (passive representation) is more likely to be responsive to the needs of all citizens (active representation). While a substantial amount of empirical research exists, a comparative understanding of the theory is lacking in Africa. This study expands empirical research on the theory to Ghana, one of the successful democracies in Sub-Saharan Africa, and focuses specifically on female representation in education. The study accomplishes two primary objectives. First, it investigates whether passive representation of female teachers and school administrators would make the education bureaucracy more responsive to girls' education in Ghana. Second, it seeks to understand the mechanisms by which passive representation translates into active representation for female students in the Ghanaian context. The analysis of an administrative dataset on senior high schools within the 216 districts of Ghana revealed that passive representation of female teachers was positively associated with the performance of girls on math and science exit exams. More female students passed the math and science exams in districts that employed more female teachers. The relationship was statistically significant after controlling for other theoretically relevant factors. In order to better understand how passive representation leads to substantive benefits for female students, a comprehensive model was examined which incorporated social backgrounds, attitudes/role acceptance, and active representation. The model hypothesized that a teacher can assume the role of an advocate or a representative of girls' interests. Those who adopt the advocacy role, regardless of their social identities, will be more likely to make decisions or take actions that improve educational outcomes for female students. A random sample of 200 teachers in eight senior high schools within the Accra Metropolis of Ghana was surveyed about their attitudes toward girls' education. In addition, school superintendents and officials in the Ghana Education Service were interviewed to provide qualitative insights. The findings indicated that gender and perceived expectation from various stakeholders influenced the extent to which teachers perceived their roles as advocates of girls. Organizational socialization and the acceptance of impartial bureaucratic roles did not overwhelm the influence of gender and perceived role expectations on the advocacy role. However, adoption of the advocacy role rather than gender predicted the potential for active representation, measured as a teacher's self-reported behavior in terms of actively taking actions to address the educational needs of girls. The findings from this sample lend considerable support for the relationship between role perceptions and the potential for active representation. It suggests that the advocacy role mediates the relationship between passive and active representation. This study therefore provides a better understanding of how a representative bureaucracy can engender responsiveness to women's education in Ghana and the Sub-Saharan African region.
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