Although politicization is a perennial research topic in public administration to investigate relationships between ministers and civil servants, the concept still lacks clarification. This article contributes to this literature by systematically identifying different conceptualizations of politicization and suggests a typology including three politicization mechanisms to strengthen the political responsiveness of the ministerial bureaucracy: formal, functional and administrative politicization. The typology is empirically validated through a comparative case analysis of politicization mechanisms in Germany, Belgium, the UK and Denmark. [---]