Importance of Recruitment by Patronage in Zambia Essay

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Public Appointments: from Patronage to Merit Willy McCourt IDPM, University of Manchester (Contact: willy.mccourt@man.ac.uk) Human Resources in Development Group Working Paper Series Working Paper No.9 Published by: Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, Precinct Centre, Manchester, M13 9GH, UK. Tel: +44-161-275-2800 Fax: +44-161-273-8829 E-mail: idpm@man.ac.uk Web: http://www.man.ac.uk/idpm Introduction Why does merit matter? What are its theoretical underpinnings? How do we define it? When are other factors more important? Why don’t we see more of it? How do we increase its use? How do we identify it? What are the implications for governments? These are the questions which this paper addresses. A new entrant to the debate about patronage and bureaucratic corruption in developing countries is apt to be reminded of the second line of the following couplet from Alexander Pope’s Essay on criticism (Pope, 1966: 81): ‘Nay, fly to Altars, there they’ll talk you dead: For fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.’ The debate conjures up Pope’s epigram, I suggest, because so much of it is an exercise in Schadenfreude - it is they, not we, who are guilty - and ineffectual hand-wringing: ‘Virtually all forms of corruption are proscribed by virtually all countries. Why, then, don’t countries take more steps to reduce corruption?’ wails one writer (Klitgaard, 1998: 3), contemplating the sheer ubiquity and intractability of the problem. I cannot hope wholly to avoid the trap myself, though the experience of eight years spent persuading local authority managers in the north-west of England, with only moderate success, to stop discriminating against women, ethnic minorities, gay men and women, and people with disabilities perhaps PUBLIC APPOINTMENTS: FROM PATRONAGE TO MERIT 1 confers an immunity to the notion that abuses in staffing are a

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