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Legal reform need not come first: Merit-based civil service management in law and practice

Schuster, C; (2017) Legal reform need not come first: Merit-based civil service management in law and practice. Public Administration , 95 (3) pp. 571-588. 10.1111/padm.12334. Green open access

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Abstract

Introducing merit recruitment of public servants is a central good governance reform. To move towards merit in practice, legislation which mandates merit recruitment is considered a necessary but insufficient first step by many scholars and practitioners. Merit-based civil service legislation should thus be sought before reform in practice. This paper challenges this reasoning. It argues that merit laws are neither sufficient nor necessary: they leave the incumbent’s possibility frontier for patronage and meritocracy in practice unaffected. Large and small-n evidence supports this assertion. Analyses of an original dataset of coded civil service legislation in 117 countries from 1975 to 2015 suggest that countries can attain meritocratic recruitment with and without legal merit requirements. Subsequently, a comparison of Paraguay and the Dominican Republic provides micro-evidence for the underlying mechanism. Conventional wisdom about the sequencing of governance reforms in developing countries may thus be misleading: legal reform need not come first.

Type: Article
Title: Legal reform need not come first: Merit-based civil service management in law and practice
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/padm.12334
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1111/padm.12334
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1566861
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