Investigating the Deep: Weberian or Patronage Networks in Haïti's Bureaucracy?


In a patrimonial state, bureaucrats’ main obligation is to a personal patron. A state’s patrimonial nature is a commonplace explanation for low state capacity. We trace the professional network of bureaucrats in Haiti’s ministry of agriculture. We find that being a graduate of the ministry’s university, entry into which is competitive, is the main predictor for being identified by someone as a desirable team member. This is not due to mere exposure. As a placebo outcome, we do not find that attending the ministry’s university increases the likelihood of being named as the colleague with whom respondents work most closely. We further find that graduates of the ministry’s university are more likely to link (1) to other ministry graduates and (2) to colleagues outside their immediate unit. This corroborates insights from qualitative interviews that ministry graduates form a productive core (nwa) in the ministry. Ministry graduates score more highly on intelligence measures and make more prosocial choices in two behavioral games. They allocate less money to themselves in (1) a prisoner’s dilemma game with a colleague as the second player, and (2) a dictator game with a ministry project as the second player. Perhaps surprisingly, these seemingly productive bureaucrats obtain higher salaries and bonusses, and see faster career progression. Together, this supports the view that Haiti’s bureaucrats form Weberian rather than patronage networks. All bureaucrats view the state as ineffective, raising the question whether conventional wisdom, to model a state on the Weberian ideal, is desirable in a fragile state.

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