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Public Administration in Uruguay: Modernization in Slow Motion

The Emerald Handbook of Public Administration in Latin America

ISBN: 978-1-83982-677-1, eISBN: 978-1-83982-676-4

Publication date: 12 January 2021


Modernization attempts have been undertaken in Uruguay during the last 20 years, inspired by both neo-managerial and neo-Weberian approaches. However, except for a few cases, most reforms have failed to achieve substantial gains in administrative capacity, effectiveness, or efficiency. We argue that some virtuous qualities of Uruguayan democracy can also show a dark side as they frequently turn into obstacles for State sector reform, no matter its orientation. Firstly, the electoral and party system obliges the Executive to build wide interparty consensus through intensive negotiations in order to advance significant transformations. Secondly, there are multiple nonpartisan actors which are powerful enough to block reform attempts. Moreover, the current pact between politicians and bureaucrats carries several negative consequences: high politicization of management decisions, serious management deficit, as well as low responsiveness of middle and lower staff levels. For all these reasons, the road to modernization of public management in Uruguay is sinuous and plagued with obstacles.



Ramos, C., Milanesi, A. and Ibarra, D.G. (2021), "Public Administration in Uruguay: Modernization in Slow Motion", Peters, B.G., Tercedor, C.A. and Ramos, C. (Ed.) The Emerald Handbook of Public Administration in Latin America, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 229-258.



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