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What Does Neo-Weberian State Mean? A Theoretical Reflection on the Latin American Perspective

Damien Larrouqué

Based on a theoretical approach this article highlights the heuristic concept of “Neo-weberian State” to illustrate Latin American contemporary institutional transformations. It also suggests some analytical elements to make the theoretical use of this concept more systematic. The concept of “Neo-weberian State” appeared in the mid-1990s and its dissemination in the Latin-American literature started roughly ten years later. It designates a hybrid model with features belonging to the two classical institutional paradigms: the weberian bureaucratic model and the New Public Management model. The Neo-weberian State operates a fusion presented as ideal as it values the respective qualities of these two models (juridical formalism and institutional agility) and rejects their drawbacks (administrative inertia and market-driven logics). In concrete terms, it tries to associate the principles of a free, universal and skilled public management with the contemporary requirements of rapidity, pragmatism and efficiency (cost-benefit relationship). Nevertheless, the Neo-weberian State cannot be mistaken for the new public governance, as the latter conveys a disembodied conception of political power and a negative idea of public administration. Indeed, the Neo-weberian State characterizes the post-neoliberal period which corresponds to the reinstatement of public institutions and the recognition of the State as the main actor of public policies. From a scientific point of view, the ideal type of the “Neo-weberian State” seems to be very useful. Involved in its theoretical consolidation, it is intendend to demonstrate that it can be considered as a new analytical tool to study the evolutions of the role and the organization of the State in Latin America and beyond.

Key words: State; State Theory; Public Administration Theory; New Public Management; Latin America

 
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