Cover: Cleaning up and invigorating the civil service

Cleaning up and invigorating the civil service

by Robert Klitgaard


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Reliable quantitative estimates are not available of: (1) the quality of civil service performance and changes therein as the result of development projects, or (2) the importance of civil service performance for various development outcomes. Nonetheless, anecdotal evidence indicates that in some countries government performance has indeed collapsed, with calamitous effects on development. Although poor government performance is theoretically overdetermined--there are many possible causes, which the authors cannot disentangle in practice--a plausible story can be told based on institutional economics, using such concepts as information, incentives, and credible commitment. This version of both problems and solutions is supported by examples of successful reforms. Two practical examples are discussed in some detail: improving incentives in the public sector and strategies to combat corruption.

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Originally published in: Public Administration and Development, v. 17, 1997, pp. 487-509.

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