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Organizing Leviathan
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Book description

Why are some countries less corrupt and better governed than others? Challenging conventional explanations on the remarkable differences in quality of government worldwide, this book argues that the organization of bureaucracy is an often overlooked but critical factor. Countries where merit-recruited employees occupy public bureaucracies perform better than those where public employees owe their post to political connections. The book provides a coherent theory of why, and ample evidence showing that meritocratic bureaucracies are conducive to lower levels of corruption, higher government effectiveness, and more flexibility to adopt modernizing reforms. Data comes from both a novel dataset on the bureaucratic structures of over 100 countries as well as from narratives of particular countries, with a special focus on the relationship between politicians and bureaucrats in Spain and Sweden. A notable contribution to the literature in comparative politics and public policy on good governance, and to corruption studies more widely.

Reviews

‘In this impressive book, Dahlstrom and Lapuente think deeply about the organization of the state and the quality of government. They argue that a productive structuring of the relationship between politicians and civil servants minimizes corruption and inefficiency. They explore this relationship with terrific case examples and data on more than 100 countries around the world. It is a terrific example of research that carefully builds bridges across literatures to provide new insights on big questions.'

David E. Lewis - Vanderbilt University, Tennessee

‘Dahlstrom and Lapuente succeed in making the study of public bureaucracy central to future research in comparative politics and political economy. They provide considerable and compelling theoretical and empirical evidence for their claim that merit selection is even more important than rules and regulations in both constraining corruption and in improving policy and practice. Theirs is a significant contribution to understanding the variation in the performance of democratic governments. In this era of increasing anti-government populism, they provide hope that at least democracies will be able to continue to perform at high levels and according to the best scientific evidence available.'

Margaret Levi - Stanford University, California

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Contents

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