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The Model Ombudsman: Institutionalizing New Zealand's Democratic Experiment

The Model Ombudsman: Institutionalizing New Zealand's Democratic Experiment

Larry B. Hill
Copyright Date: 1976
Pages: 430
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  • Book Info
    The Model Ombudsman: Institutionalizing New Zealand's Democratic Experiment
    Book Description:

    One increasingly popular device for achieving a balance between authority and accountability in government is the institution of the ombudsman. The first non-Scandinavian ombudsman appeared in New Zealand in 1962, and since then the office has spread to many countries and been adopted at different levels of government. This book-the first intensive study of New Zealand's "model" ombudsman- seeks to understand the process by which the institution was successfully adapted and made a part of New Zealand's political system.

    The author's inquiry is based on eighteen months of field experience in New Zealand. His book examines the complaints, the clients, their interaction with the ombudsman, his relations with the bureaucracy, and his effectiveness. His relations with various publics-bureaucrats, Honorable Members, and Queen's Ministers receive special attention.

    Originally published in 1977.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6948-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    Larry B. Hill
  5. Part 1 PROLOGUE

    • CHAPTER ONE Democracy, Bureaucracy, and the Ombudsman
      (pp. 3-15)

      This book is about democracy, about bureaucracy, and about the ombudsman—that originally Scandinavian “grievance man” advertised as a solution to the modern problem of how to maintain democracy in bureaucratic society. In general terms, the focus is upon a central problem in classical political theory: the proper relationships between the governors and the governed. More specifically, this book is an inquiry into the institutions and processes through which citizens, either voluntarily or involuntarily, become involved with the state. Governing and being governed is viewed as a political production-consumption process.¹ From the citizens’ perspective the material sufficiency or the justice...

    • CHAPTER TWO A Political-Anthropological Approach to the Ombudsman
      (pp. 16-46)

      The preceding introduction of the ombudsman’s significance was couched in political terms, and the following analysis is explicitly political in substance. In spirit, however, I have approached my subject from an anthropological perspective. Anthropologists typically have conducted in “primitive” societies investigations which are intensively focused, which feature extended research, and which systematically analyze particular aspects of behavior within the broadest social context. For reasons to be detailed below, I undertook such an investigation of the New Zealand Ombudsman.

      An epochal event in the history of anthropology was the publication in 1922 of Bronislaw Malinowski’sArgonauts of the Western Pacific.In...

    • CHAPTER THREE Creating the Social Field: The Ombudsman in New Zealand
      (pp. 47-76)

      New Zealand is a modern “developed” society,¹ and politics takes place within a context in which government is very actively and deeply involved in society.² The ubiquitous welfare state might come into direct contact with individuals on such matters as installing a telephone, granting a pension, obtaining a loan on a house, or writing a last will and testament. These and many other disparate services require a large governmental establishment, and New Zealand has the world’s highest percentage of its working-age population employed by its various government and public enterprises.³ Considerable financial resources are also required, and New Zealand’s extractive...


    • CHAPTER FOUR Inputs: The Complaints
      (pp. 79-100)

      “What is an ombudsman?” is a question that already has been asked, and a skeletal definition was given in the first chapter. Nevertheless, through inquiring more specifically what kind of institution the New Zealand Ombudsman has become, the next several chapters will attempt to answer the general question more comprehensively. This chapter investigates the Ombudsman’s intake, his complaints. Although the Ombudsman has the power to be self-activating, nearly all of his investigations are initiated by citizens’ complaints. Hence it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that the Ombudsman's role is largely determined by his complaints.

      Most of the rhetoric about...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Access to the Ombudsman: His Clients
      (pp. 101-129)

      Now that we know how many and what kinds of cases the Ombudsman has had to work with, this chapter considers the further major question: who uses the Ombudsman? These matters are interrelated, for the complaints cannot be interpreted properly when divorced from those who lodge them—the Ombudsman’s clients. To make more explicit the previous chapter’s theoretical thrust, these clients are involved in a pattern of consumption of political services that can be identified as demand behavior.¹ Because they essentially define the Ombudsman’s institutional parameters, identifying the clients is of cardinal importance.

      Whom we would expect to complain, depends...

    • CHAPTER SIX Exchange Processes: The Ombudsman and His Clients
      (pp. 130-152)

      Having determined what kinds of cases come to the Ombudsman and who uses his services, in this chapter we explore the relationship between the institution and that segment of the population who complain. Five aspects of this relationship are examined: the extensiveness of the interaction between the Ombudsman and clients; the clients’ perceptions and images of the Ombudsman; their attitudes toward bureaucracy; the complaint strategies that clients employ; and other qualitative aspects of the Ombudsman-client relationship.

      The quantity of interactions between the Ombudsman and his clients during the investigation of a complaint is not impressive, but these interactions are, of...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Exchange Processes: The Bureaucracy and the Ombudsman
      (pp. 153-184)

      This chapter’s focus is different from its three predecessors. In examining complaints, clients, and ombudsman-clientele relations, those chapters analyzed the ombudsman’s role as a client-serving agency. Such a focus has become popular as increasing numbers of sociologists, social workers, and mental health professionals have come to perceive the ombudsman’s virtues as a “helping” institution. Helping individual citizens always has been a component of the ombudsman’s role, but one searches the early literature for studies from this perspective in vain. It is principally as an institution of public administration that the ombudsman first gained the attention of students of governmental affairs,...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Outcomes: The Ombudsman’s Impact
      (pp. 185-242)

      Focusing upon the Ombudsman’s complaints, his clients, and the pattern of Ombudsman-client and bureaucracy-Ombudsman interaction, this Part’s previous four chapters have contributed much to our understanding of the nature of the institution under study. That understanding is, however, incomplete in a major respect: we have not yet analyzed theconsequencesof having an Ombudsman. How can the impact upon the New Zealand political system of establishing an Ombudsman be measured, and what has the impact been?

      Certain of the findings thus far presented may have aroused suspicions among some readers that the Ombudsman accomplishes little. As examples: he has hardly...


    • CHAPTER NINE The Ombudsman’s “Victims”: The Bureaucrats
      (pp. 245-266)

      The preceding Part’s treatment of the Ombudsman’s relationships with the two sets of environmental actors with whom he has the most contact—clients and bureaucrats—approached the institution’s study from an exchange perspective. As valuable as this perspective is, however, it alone provides an insufficient base for assessing the Ombudsman’s institutionalization. This Part supplements the sociometric data with reports of interviews that were designed to probe into the bureaucrats’ and the parliamentarians’ opinions of and attitudes toward the Ombudsman.

      One of the institution’s characteristics that commands the attention of students of political power and bureaucracy is the Ombudsman’s effectiveness despite...

    • CHAPTER TEN Honorable Members and the Ombudsman
      (pp. 267-297)

      Sweden’sjustitieombudsmanwas created as Parliament’s rival to the King’s Ombudsman, and the importance of the institution’s legislative linkages often has been emphasized. For example, theEncyclopaedia Britannicadefines an ombudsman as “a legislative commissioner for investigating citizens’ complaints of bureaucratic abuse.”¹ Similarly, Donald C. Rowat has asserted that "the Ombudsman is an independent and nonpartisan officer of the legislature, provided for in the constitution or by law, who supervises the administration.”² During New Zealand’s debate on whether or not to adopt an ombudsman, the office’s potential to restore to Parliament more effective control over Ministers' actions was extolled.³ But...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN The Queen’s Ministers and the Ombudsman
      (pp. 298-314)

      Because Ministers of the Crown hold strategic power positions, their opinions of the Ombudsman are of obvious importance. Ministers’ acquiescence was required for his continued existence, but their active support was necessary for the institution to take root and grow. Would they regard the Ombudsman as a rival in the performance of their own “grievance man” role? Did they feel that he had interfered with the revered convention of ministerial responsibility? And how did they evaluate his performance as a complaints mechanism? Since the Ombudsman was a National Party creation one would expect the National Ministers’ public remarks about the...

  8. Part 4 EPILOGUE

    • CHAPTER TWELVE Evaluations: Program, Institutionalization, and Transfer
      (pp. 317-346)

      This book is a modern saga—a story of the originally Scandinavian ombudsman’s introduction to New Zealand and of the first twelve and one-half years of his life there. Romantic though they may be, the historicity of the ancient sagas recounting the adventures of Scandinavia’s legendary champions often is questionable. This ombudsman saga contains few truly heroic exploits, but the narrative is solidly based upon materials gathered at firsthand whose authenticity is verifiable. Rather than the chronological storytelling method favored by the traditional sagaman, I have organized my story of the ombudsman around the sorts of analytical categories that modern...

  9. Appendices

    • APPENDIX A In Retrospect: A Commentary by Sir Guy Powles
      (pp. 347-352)
    • APPENDIX B The Ombudsmen Act 1975
      (pp. 353-386)
  10. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 387-404)
  11. Index
    (pp. 405-411)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 412-412)