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Back to Paper Details
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Weberian Civil Service Practices and Institutional Quality: Evidence from US State Judicial Systems

Comparative Politics
Federalism
Governance
USA
Institutions
Nicholas Charron
University of Gothenburg
Nicholas Charron
University of Gothenburg

Abstract

Do employment conditions of civil servants impact the institutional performance of the bureaucracy? This paper builds on a recent literature that seeks to evaluate the extent to which certain bureaucratic factors, often associated with ‘Weberianism ‘ – meritocratic recruitment, salary levels and job tenure/career stability - lead to higher institutional quality and impartiality. Drawing theoretical expectations from several scholarly literatures, this paper explores these factors at a new level of analysis – the state level in the United States, which serves as a complement to the majority of empirical studies at the national level. In addition, this study attempts to test these channels in one specific area of the bureaucracy – the judiciary – for the sake of drawing clearer inferences. Using a spatial design and newly collected data on employment conditions judges and judicial quality for each state, this study corroborates many of the recent findings by cross country studies (Rauch and Evans 2000; Dahlström et al 2011), that meritocratic recruitment is highly correlated with judicial quality while the other two factors - salaries and job tenure length are not systematically associated with the measure of judicial quality.