Performance Incentives under Autocracy: Evidence from Russia's Regions
41 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2014 Last revised: 18 Dec 2015
Date Written: November 2015
Available evidence indicates that there is considerable variation among autocracies in the extent to which subnational officials are rewarded for economic growth. Why is economic performance used as a criterion for appointment in some autocracies but not in others? Using data on turnover among high-level economic bureaucrats in Russia’s 89 regions between 2001 and 2012, we find that performance-based appointments are more frequent in less competitive regions. In more competitive — though still autocratic — regions, the political imperatives of maintaining a political machine that can win semi-competitive elections may lead regime leaders to abandon cadre policies that promote economic development.
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