Representative Bureaucracy and Fire Service Performance Academic Article uri icon


  • Representative bureaucracy theory assumes that representative organizations are better able to represent the needs of particular citizens and groups of service users and that they may perform especially well on their core tasks. In particular, recent work suggests that street-level bureaucrats are more likely to become active representatives than upper-level bureaucrats for whom a critical mass of representation is required to influence policy outcomes. The positive contribution of street-level bureaucrats may also be enhanced where they are accorded greater discretion or are better able to draw upon their connections with clients. In this study, we test these hypotheses by exploring the relationship between gender and minority ethnic representation and the performance of fire authorities in England. Our study reveals that more representative fire authorities tend to be more effective organizations. We find little evidence of a critical mass effect at upper levels, but street-level representation does affect organizational performance. Performance impacts are greater in policy areas with more discretion and opportunity for co-production. © 2014 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)


citation count

  • 60

publication date

  • January 2014