I am finally beginning to narrow in on a lit review topic, but currently am still searching fairly broadly on the topic of women’s role in the civil service. More specifically, looking to see if there has been any research to see that high or fair levels of women involvement in the public sector lead to a less corrupt and more efficient bureaucracy. There is a lot of literature about women and politics and how that can *potentially* reduce rates of corruption, although some argue there is not enough evidence to make that argument. I was also able to find a really interesting study about gender titled “Transformative Empowerment in the Lagos State Civil Service: A Gender Policy Discourse” which makes the claim that “The empowerment and autonomy of women and the improvement of women’s social, economic and political status is essential for the achievement of both transparent and accountable government and administration” which is exactly what I hope to look into. Moreover, I found another study that uses Brazil as an example for streamlining gender as a way to combat petty corruption which is interesting since I hope to analyze the Brazil data set for my final project. So although I still have a lot of literature to parse through, I am excited about the possible trajectories of the lit review and corresponding final project.
I read the article “What the UK civil service can learn from developing countries on pay and acting on evidence”. The headline caught my eye because it seems as if everyone always, with good intentions mostly, asks how we can help and improve the developing world without ever considering what we can learn from them. Essentially, he reviews corruption data from developing countries from every continent, spots out the trends that seem to be causing problems with corruption within the state, and then applies the lessons learned developed nations, namely the UK. While he recognizes that the UK has a merit based system that has eliminated corruption, he argues that they need to be more competitive with their salaries for bureaucrats because unsatisfactory pay can lead to taking bribes and corruption. He points to the statistic that only 34% of bureaucrats are satisfied with pay and benefits, which he believes is dangerously low and attention should be paid to this if the UK wants to maintain a strong and trustworthy bureaucracy.
For me, the readings make a lot of very similar points, but all of them have their own nuances which make many arguments actually very different. One thing many of them agree on, specifically Fukuyama and Carl & Victor, is that the power and importance that civil service has is dramatically overlooked by many. Fukuyama takes this point and then describes the ways to measure the effectiveness and actually just how difficult that is. Though he goes through problems with all the different approaches, the main theme seemed to be the outcomes and products of a bureaucracy are all so endogenous that it is difficult to measure precisely what works and what doesn’t. He strongly asserts, however, that a largely autonomous bureaucracy is the strongest bureaucracy. While I understood his reasoning for this, I feel like this argument is very situation based and that in many places a largely autonomous bureaucracy would have too many risks to be the best option.
Davidson c/o 2020