Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

Blue Wooldridge


For years African Americans have comprised the largest minority group within the federal civil service, yet have been under represented at the higher levels, namely, GS13 through GS15 and the senior executive service (SES). Executive and legislative actions alone have not been sufficient to overcome the under-representation of African Americans at higher levels of the federal bureaucracy. The theory of representative bureaucracy suggests that passive representation, or the extent to which a bureaucracy employs people of diverse social backgrounds, leads to active representation, or the pursuit of policies reflecting the interests and desires of those people (Kingsley, 1944). Implicit in this definition is the expectation that minority administrators, specifically African American senior administrators, would have an interest in increasing their representation at higher decision-making levels within the bureaucracy. This research utilized quantitative analysis to examine 48 federal agencies in five four-year increments to determine how much senior level African Americans contributed to African American increases at mid levels of the federal bureaucracy. Further, this research utilized qualitative analysis in the form of standardized structured interviews to determine to what extent African American senior administrators believed that it was important to increase the representation of African Americans at higher levels. The results of the quantitative analysis suggests that African Americans at the highest levels (GS15 and SES) of the federal bureaucracy have exerted a positive influence on the overall change in the percentage of African Americans at the mid level (GS13 and GS14) over time. Further, the results indicate that of all the independent variables tested, African Americans at the senior level were the most significant contributors to the positive change in the percentage of African Americans at the mid level, after a four-year period. The influence of African Americans at senior levels was significant only in agencies where African Americans at mid levels were already below the mean for African Americans within the federal civil service. This finding suggest that African Americans at the highest levels take an active approach to representative bureaucracy when there is inequity for African Americans at mid-level positions in their agency.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2011