Representative bureaucracy in Belgium: Power-sharing or diversity?

Steven Walle, SM (Sandra) Groeneveld, Lieselot Vandenbussche

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

2 Citations (Scopus)


In this chapter we explain how the Belgian administration is confronted with a double challenge for building a representative bureaucracy. Representative bureaucracy is concerned with making bureaucracies more responsive to the public they serve (Krislov, 1974; Sowa & Selden, 2003). On the one hand, that public, i.e. the Belgian society is characterized by an ubiquitous division between Dutch-speaking Flemings and French-speaking Walloons. An elaborate set of rules (Language Law) regulates the representation of the two language groups (Dutch-speakers and French-speakers) in the Federal as well as in the Regional public administrations. On the other hand, Belgian society is also dealing with growing ethnic-cultural diversity. Therefore the Federal and Regional governments have rules, policies and instruments aimed at establishing a diverse Federal and Regional public administration. These policies all give, to a certain degree, attention to the representation of ethnic-cultural groups in the administration (Dienst Emancipatiezaken, 2010; Région Wallonne, 2007). Before discussing these rules, policies and instruments, we first discuss the starting conditions. We illustrate how the two dominant language communities more and more drifted apart and how this growing cultural-linguistic cleavage has determined and is still determining Belgian polity and policy. At the same time, Belgium is rapidly becoming more and more ethnically and culturally diverse. As such, representativeness in Belgian administration faces two kinds of diversity: an old, deep-rooted cultural-linguistic diversity between Flemings and Walloons and a newer kind of diversity: the growing presence of ethnic-cultural minorities, i.e. immigrants and their descendants.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRepresentative bureaucracy in action: Country profiles from the Americas, Europe, Afrcia, and Asia.
EditorsP. von Maravi?, B.G. Peters, E. Schröter
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'Representative bureaucracy in Belgium: Power-sharing or diversity?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this