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Politico-administrative elite (PAE)

Politico-Administrative Elite (PAE)

The aim of this research cluster is to understand the decision-making behavior in ministerial bureaucracies. For this purpose, we collect and link data on individual backgrounds and the role models of senior civil servants (SCS) with their decision-making behavior. The analyzes are based on quantitative elite surveys (PAE survey) and qualitative elite interviews (PAE interview) in Germany.

The PAE survey is the continuation of the "Comparative Elite Study" (CES) project initiated by Joel Aberbach, Robert D. Putnam and Bert Rockman in the 1970s and covers a period of more than 40 years in six waves. Falk Ebinger has carried out the survey every four years since 2005 and records the SCS of every outgoing government. Since 2017, the PAE Survey has been jointly led by Falk Ebinger (WU Vienna), Sylvia Veit (University of Kassel) and Marian Döhler (University of Hanover). The homepage of the joint project can be found here.

The unique database obtained through CES and PAE enables longitudinal and cross-sectional analyzes to answer a wide range of questions relevant to understanding the interrelationship between staff and processes and the results of decision-making in public institutions.

Relevant publications

  • Ebinger, F., Veit, S. & Fromm, N. 2019. The Partisan-Professional Dichotomy revisted: Politicization and Decision-Making of Senior Civil Servants. In:Public administration. 97 (4). DOI: 10.1111 / padm.12613.

  • Veit, S., Fromm, N. & Ebinger, F. 2018. Saying no is one of our most important duties. Politicization, understanding of roles and decision-making behavior of leading ministerial officials in Germany. The modern state (dms) - magazine for public policy, law and management 11 (2), 413-436. DOI:

  • Ebinger, F., Lux N., Kintzinger, C. & Garske, B. 2018. The German administrative elite of the government from Brandt to Merkel II. Origin, composition and politicization of the executives in the federal ministries. The modern state (dms) - magazine for public policy, law and management 11 (2), 389-411. DOI:

  • Ebinger, F. & Schmitt, C. 2012. Autonomy and autonomy effects: Theoretical and methodological explanations. PVS - Political quarterly, Issue 53/1, 98-108. PDF

  • Bogumil, J., Ebinger, F. & Jochheim, L. 2012. Top civil servants and their behavior in politically relevant decisions. In: Bureaucracy in the maze of politics. Memory ribbon for Hans-Ulrich Derlien. Series of publications by the German section of the International Institute for Administrative Science, Volume 36. Edited by Dieter Schimanke, Sylvia Veit and Hans-Peter Bull, Baden-Baden: Nomos. 151-174. Link. PDF

  • Ebinger, F. & Schmitt, C. 2010. Is it all a question of management? How autonomy rights influence the freedom of action of administrative management personnel. PVS - Political quarterly, Issue 51/1, pp. 69-93. link

  • Ebinger, F. & Jochheim, L. 2009. Whose loyal servants? How the grand coalition changed the German ministerial bureaucracy.dms - dhe modern state journal of public policy, law, and management, Issue 2/2009, pp. 335-353. link

  • Schwanke, K. & Ebinger, F. 2006. Politicization and understanding of the role of the German administrative elite 1970 to 2005. Change despite continuity. PVS - Political quarterly, Special Issue 37: Politics and Administration. 227-249. link


PAE-2013 was made possible by the generous support of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

PAE-2017 was made possible by the generous support of the Leibniz Research Center Science and Society (LCSS).


  • Veit, S. & Ebinger, F. 2020. It's (not) just a job. How senior civil servants ’responsibilities frame their attitudes in decision-making. Paper prepared for Trans-European Dialogue Conference (TED), Bratislava (Slovakia), 11-13 February 2020 (with Sylvia Veit and Bastian Strobel).

  • Veit, S. & Ebinger, F. 2019. Same same but different? Administrative Roles and Politicization in Ministerial Bureaucracies. Paper presented at Section The Politics of Bureaucracy, Panel: The preferences, motivations and decision behavior of policy bureaucrats, European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) General Conference, 4-7 September 2019. University of Wroclaw, Poland.

  • Strobel, B., Veit, S. & Ebinger, F. 2019. Representative Bureaucracy: Passive and Active Representation in German Ministries and Agencies. Paper presented at "Politics and Public Administration within Core Executives," International Conference on Public Policy, 26-28 June 2019, Montreal, Canada.

  • Enkler, J. & Ebinger, F. 2014. What frames top administrators' behavior? Explaining Functional Politicization of Elite Civil Servants. Paper presented at PSG VII: Quality and Integrity of Governance, European Group for Public Administration (EGPA) Annual Conference 2014. September 10-12, 2014, Speyer, Germany.

  • Kintzinger, C. & Ebinger, F. 2014. Research at the leading string? Perceptions and Experiences of Administrative Elites in German Federal Agencies. Paper presented at International Political Science Association (IPSA) 23rd World Congress of Political Science. 19-24 July 2014, Montréal, Canada.