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Combining patronage and merit in public sector recruitment

Brierley, Sarah ORCID: 0000-0002-0902-6763 (2020) Combining patronage and merit in public sector recruitment. Journal of Politics. ISSN 0022-3816

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Identification Number: 10.1086/708240


When do politicians in developing democracies prioritize meritocratic recruitment over patronage hiring for public sector jobs? I distinguish between low-and high-skilled positions and argue that the former are valuable for sustaining party machines, while manipulating the latter can undermine state performance. Accordingly, politicians will interfere to ensure their copartisans are hired to low-skilled jobs but select bureaucrats for high-skilled positions based on meritocratic criteria. I test my argument using novel bureaucrat-level data from Ghana (n p 17; 942) and leverage a change in the governing party to investigate hiring patterns. The results suggest that partisan bias is confined to low-ranked jobs. The findings shed light on the mixed effects of electoral competition on patronage identified in prior studies: competition may dissuade politicians from interfering in recruitment to high-ranked positions but encourage them to hire partisans for low-ranked positions.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 The Southern Political Science Association
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2019 16:18
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2024 16:24

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