Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Administration

First Advisor's Name

Mohamad Alkadry

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Meredith Newman

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

N. Emel Ganapati

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Alexander Kroll

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Asia Eaton

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Representative bureaucracy, representation, mechanisms, German schools, minority

Date of Defense



According to representative bureaucracy theory, a bureaucracy that mirrors the population it serves—in terms of demographic composition—is more responsive to the interests of all groups in the population. Most research in this area has examined the link between passive representation (i.e., occurrences in which minority bureaucrats mirror the population) and active representation (i.e., occurrences in which minority bureaucrats actively pursue the interests of those they represent). Less attention has been directed toward the notion that different mechanisms can make representative bureaucracy have an effect.

Focusing on the German public school sector, the aim of this study is to understand through which mechanisms teachers with migration backgrounds can have an impact on their students and how they become representatives. The German government has recently begun to support intensified recruitment of people with migration background into the teacher workforce. Assessing the mechanisms of representation is, thus, not only crucial for a better theoretical understanding of representative bureaucracy, but it can also provide policy guidance for future government efforts.

The mechanisms include demand inducement, coproduction inducement, advocacy, shared values and empathic understanding, and peer influence. Substantive effects are operationalized as students’ grades, career expectations, and perceived classroom climate. Applying a sequential mixed-methods approach, OLS regressions based on data from 194 surveys collected at six German high schools measure the mediating effect of the mechanisms on the relationship between the representation of students and the three substantive effects. Furthermore, a comprehensive qualitative analysis of 26 in-depth interviews provides insight into teachers’ perceptions on their role as representatives.

Overall, the findings indicate that for the occurrence of most mechanisms, a teacher’s personality is at least as crucial as a common migration background. A mediating effect of demand and coproduction inducement on the relationship between passive representation and substantive effects was found in the quantitative analysis. The qualitative analysis reveals the importance of empathic understanding and advocacy as mechanisms of representation and points to the potential of peer influence as influential mechanism of representation. Furthermore, the findings highlight the importance of matching backgrounds and a critical mass of teachers with migration background in the workforce to overcome racism.





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