The British civil service: perspectives on ‘decline’ and ‘modernisation’

Robert Pyper, June Burnham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This article was stimulated by the contradiction between two predominant characterisations of the British civil service. Some analysts see it as in decline, possibly terminally, overwhelmed by the challenges posed by the reforms and the changes in its policy environment; others see it as in the vanguard by adopting modernising reforms and adapting to new public service values. After critically examining these opposing perspectives on civil service ‘decline’ and ‘modernisation’, we conclude that these contrasting analyses suffer from adopting too limited a view of the British civil service in its historical and international context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-205
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Politics and International Relations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011


  • civil service
  • reform
  • Whitehal
  • modernisation


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