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The models of Irish local politics that dominate the literature offer inadequate explanations of the elected politiciad officer relationship. This article analyses the behaviour of the most senior local officer (the county or city manager) vis‐à‐vis elected representatives by first reviewing the relevant parts of four current models and then offering an alternative explanation by way of a fifth ‘divergent interest’ model. This final model is in part an amalgam of the other four though it also aims to disaggregate the notion of policy as it is currently used. In particular, it seeks to compromise between the neglect of substantive policy concerns inherent in the brokerage explanation and the epiphenomena1 model's ambivalence on the initiatives available to the manager. A feature of this model is that both managers and councillors have policy and administrative interests but in largely non‐competitive areas. The divergence of interests between official and politician arises from differing perspectives established by both consideration of time‐scale and socialization. The stability of their relationship is reinforced by the temporal fragmentation of the formal policy making process, and b the non‐competing resources over which the manager and his councillors seek command: It is hoped that the divergent interests model offered here will be a useful tool in understanding the relationship between Irish politicians and bureaucrats at the local government level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-344
Number of pages18
JournalPublic Administration
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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