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When the victor cannot claim the spoils: institutional incentives for professionalizing patronage states

Schuster, Christian (2015) When the victor cannot claim the spoils: institutional incentives for professionalizing patronage states. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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In most of the world’s states, bureaucrats are managed based on patronage: political discretion determines recruitment and careers. Corruption, poverty and lower growth often result. Unsurprisingly, patronage reform has taken centre stage in foreign aid. Yet, reforms overwhelmingly fail. Bad government is often good politics. When does good government become good politics in patronage states? To address this conundrum, this dissertation develops and tests a theory of reform of patronage states. The theory builds on a simple insight. Not all patronage states are the same: bad government takes different forms in different countries. Patronage states differ in particular in the institutional locus of control over patronage. Variably, sway over patronage benefits is allocated to the executive, other government branches or public servants. These institutional differences shape the electoral usefulness of patronage states to incumbent Presidents and Prime Ministers. Where institutions deprive incumbents and their allies of patronage control, incumbents face greater incentives to draw on their legal powers to professionalize. The theory is empirically validated through a comparison of reforms in Paraguay and the Dominican Republic, which draws on 130 high-level interviews. Evidence from patronage reforms in the U.S. and U.K., and from cross-country expert survey data on government structures underscores the theory’s external validity. The theory’s implication is clear: the origins of professional bureaucracies may lie in the institutional design of patronage states. This finding challenges scholarly convictions about the ephemeral nature of institutions in patronage states: strong formal institutions may exist in weak institutional contexts. Moreover, formal institutions may be causes – rather than only consequences – of the demise of patronage, clientelism and bad government. As a corollary, this dissertation adds a fresh argument to the age-old debate about the merits of power centralization and fragmentation: good government may arise from fragmented control over bad government.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 J.W. Christian Schuster
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Panizza, Francisco and Page, Edward C.

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