At the Pleasure of the Crown
148 pages, 6 x 9
13 tables, 10 charts
Release Date:01 Apr 2021
Release Date:01 Oct 2020
Release Date:01 Oct 2020
Release Date:01 Oct 2020

At the Pleasure of the Crown

The Politics of Bureaucratic Appointments

UBC Press

Unlike most public servants, top administrators – those who manage thousands of personnel and oversee millions of dollars in public spending – are appointed by the head of government. And the relationships between ministers and senior public officials occur largely behind closed doors. At the Pleasure of the Crown is a detailed exploration of this central but overlooked aspect of governing.

Using an impressive array of quantitative and qualitative data, Christopher A. Cooper analyzes the appointment of deputy ministers in Canada’s provincial bureaucracies over the last century. As the nature of governance has shifted – from limited government to welfare state and into the contemporary era of managerialism – governments have looked for different competencies and qualities in those who occupy top bureaucratic posts. Partisan loyalty was replaced by candid advice, and ultimately by feverish devotion to the policy agenda. Throughout this evolution, turnover among bureaucratic elites has remained highly political

At the Pleasure of the Crown illuminates what these trends say about the historical balance of power between elected politicians and appointed bureaucrats in our democratic society. As a critical assessment of political–public service relationships, it also asks a key question: What are the consequences for the integrity of Canadian public institutions?

This book will appeal to scholars and students of Canadian politics, public administration, and political history, as well as to government human resource policy makers and practitioners.

A sophisticated analysis of the consequences of the growing politicization of the public service as well as its increasing marginalization at the hands of new partisan sources of policy advice. Christopher Cooper goes well beyond the tired ‘strong first ministers’ thesis that has dominated this analysis in the recent past to bring much-needed nuance to this debate. Ken Rasmussen, professor, Department of Public Policy, University of Regina
Christopher A. Cooper is an associate professor of public management at the University of Ottawa. His research investigates the complex relationship between politics and administration and has been published in a variety of leading periodicals, such as Public Administration, Governance, and Parliamentary Affairs.


1 To the Victor Go the Spoils: Traditional Explanations for Bureaucratic Turnover

2 Public Service Bargains: A New Model of Bureaucratic Turnover

3 Testing Public Service Bargains: A Descriptive Assessment of Bureaucratic Turnover

4 A Closer Look at Bureaucratic Turnover: Controlling for Alternative Causes

5 The Politics of Bureaucratic Turnover: Politicians’ Motivations


Notes; References; Index

Find what you’re looking for...

30% off UBC Press books through May 31 using code ANYWHERE30 at checkout!

Stay Informed

Receive the latest UBC Press news, including events, catalogues, and announcements.

Read past newsletters

Current Catalogue
Spring 2022 catalogue cover
Publishers Represented
UBC Press is the Canadian agent for several international publishers. Visit our Publishers Represented page to learn more.