Knowing the Game: Motivations and Skills Among Partisan Policy Professionals

Publikationsår: 2016

Svallfors, Stefan

"Knowing the Game: Motivations and Skills Among Partisan Policy Professionals",
Journal of professions and organizations, Advance Access published September 21, 2016,
doi: 10.1093/jpo/jow008


This article focuses on “partisan policy professionals” (PPPs), i.e. people who are employed to affect politics and policy, and analyzes their particular motivations and skills. This article focuses on the occupational practices of PPPs: what are their main motivations and driving forces, and what are the key skills they deploy in their work? The main motivation for PPPs is a desire to wield power and influence the course of affairs, while their working-life satisfaction comes from getting their message into the media without becoming personally exposed. The key resource of PPPs is context-dependent politically useful knowledge, in three main forms: “Problem formulation” involves highlighting and framing social problems and their possible solutions. “Process expertise” consists of understanding the “where, how, and why” of the political and policy-making processes. “Information access” is the skill to be very fast in finding reliable and relevant information. These motivations and skills underpin a particular professionalism based in an “entrepreneurial ethos”, which differs from both the ethos of elected politicians, and that of civil servants, and which has some potentially problematic implications for democratic  overnance.