Bureaucratic Leadership at Ground Level: A Case Study of Block Development Officers in West Bengal (India)

AuthorZainab Farhat,Debarshi Nag
Date01 June 2021
Published date01 June 2021
DOI10.1177/00195561211025976
Subject MatterArticles
Bureaucratic
Leadership at Ground
Level: A Case Study
of Block Development
Officers in West
Bengal (India)
Debarshi Nag1 and Zainab Farhat1
Abstract
Max Weber coined the term ‘bureaucratic leadership’ to define leadership in gov-
ernment organisations based on a set of predetermined regulations, strict functions
and fixed roles under a static hierarchy. Almost all government organisations adhere
to these principles including the civil services, but, at the ground level of administra-
tion, a rational and workable form has been developed by the civil servants to suit
their roles. The post of a Block Development Officer (BDO) in the civil services is
assigned to play multiple roles to govern the block effectively. From being a leader
who would motivate and facilitate a team of officials in development as well as
general administration, a diplomat who would set the right chord with the political
functionaries at various levels to settle upon a consensus in every issue, a crisis man-
ager who would rush forward, with limited resources, to face any natural calamity
or a serious law and order issue, a strict disciplinarian who would ensure transpar-
ency in fiscal matters, an entrepreneur who would motivate the people to become
self-reliant with the help of government schemes, a BDO is indeed ‘the cutting edge
of administration’. The entire administration depends upon a Block Development
Officer to deliver the much needed “public service” to the residents of the Block
at all times and under all circumstances. This article is intended to study the practi-
cal forms of ‘bureaucratic leadership’ performed by BDOs while discharging their
duties efficiently both during crises and in normal circumstances.
Keywords
Leadership, government, development, BDO, transparency
Article
Indian Journal of Public
Administration
67(2) 188–200, 2021
© 2021 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
in.sagepub.com/journals-permissions-india
DOI: 10.1177/00195561211025976
journals.sagepub.com/home/ipa
1 Department of Government and Public Administration, School of Humanities, Lovely Professional
University, Punjab, India.
Corresponding author:
Zainab Farhat, Department of Government and Public Administration, School of Humanities, Lovely
Professional University, Phagwara, Punjab 144001, India.
E-mail: zainfarhat27@gmail.com

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