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Ma in Italia è un male antico

Commento a Peters

Anno XXII, n. 98, luglio-settembre 1987
Centro Einaudi


Yet in Italy bureaucracy is an ancient evil

In Great Britain and the United States – the countries Peters looks at – and in France too, there are university institutions which are explicitly geared to the recruitment and training of civil service élites. In Italy, on the other hand, the legal value of academic qualifications and centrally-dependent university budgets mean that there is  a lack of qualitative control upon the future servants of the civil service. This lack of control is also highlighted by the fact that, in Italy, there is no differentiated training for managers: the latter are the product of a managerial career and their professional progress is the result of automatic mechanisms based on seniority. In Italy, therefore, a career in public administration is never chosen for motives of prestige or a sense of duty towards the community: motivations based on job security predominate. This phenomenon is confirmed by statistical surveys on public employees: they reveal a relative majority of Southern civil servants (in the South a job in public administration is often the sole alternative to unemployment) and the prominence of law and letters graduates. This latter aspect of the phenomenon reveals how, in Italy, a nineteeenth century idea of public administration still prevails over socio-economic phenomena, a civil service trained solely to apply existing laws despite the transformation that the duties of the state have undergone in the meantime.