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date: 06 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

How does the way the bureaucracy is organized affect the quality of the public policies delivered? This chapter focuses primarily on the role of human resources in the public sector and its impact on good government. We argue it is specifically important how bureaucrats are recruited, promoted, dismissed, and incentivized; what public administration scholars refer to as “civil service systems.” Building on the more than 75-year-old discussion between Carl Friedrich (1940) and Herman Finer (1941), we explore the pros and cons of having public employees who are directly accountable to their political masters vis-à-vis public employees who are politically autonomous. The review of the available evidence indicates that, all other things being equal, civil servants’ autonomy leads to less corrupt, and more effective governments in comparison with polities where civil servants owe their positions to political connections. The chapter concludes that civil servants should be directly accountable to their professional peers instead of their political superiors.

Keywords: bureaucratic autonomy, corruption, government effectiveness, civil service, accountability, professional norms

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