The Transformation Of The British Imperial Administration, 1919-1939
This dissertation examines the work of Ralph Furse, the Appointments Secretary for the Colonial Office, and his forward imperial allies. Furse, in office from 1910-1914 and 1919-1948, slowly gained control over the British imperial apparatus in large part due to bureaucratic maneuvers of his own and the missteps of his competitors. Furse reformed the way new administrators were hired, trained, and tracked, and therefore, in theory, how the Empire operated during the interwar period. However, this transformation failed to translate to on the ground changes because of the thin numbers of officials on the ground before World War II, the lack of buy-in by the junior administrators themselves, the Depression, and geopolitical concerns. Furse slowly gained bureaucratic control of the levers of imperial power, first by centralizing recruitment and hiring for the Colonial Office and putting it in his own hands. He then developed a yearlong training program for new administrators at Oxford and Cambridge that tried to indoctrinate them into viewing the Empire as an economic asset. Furse and his allies evaluated administrators on how enthusiastically they accepted his approach, testing and tracking them at Oxbridge and continuing to do so throughout their entire careers. With this information, Furse inserted himself into changes to the administrative functions of the colonial Empire. Although Furse's reforms changed the administrative apparatus of the Empire by 1939, little in fact changed on the ground in the colonies. Geopolitically, rivals showed the weakness of Britain. The Depression dampened the merger attempts at capital investment. Finally, Furse's presumably reformed junior administrators were more interested in hunting, sport and safari. Although some junior administrators succeeded in Furse's new system, junior administrators in the field reflected the incongruences and inconsistences of Furse's grand plan for the Empire.