Patronage for Productivity: Selection and Performance in the Age of Sail

61 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2019 Last revised: 24 Mar 2020

See all articles by Hans-Joachim Voth

Hans-Joachim Voth

University of Zurich - UBS International Center of Economics in Society; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Guo Xu

University of California, Berkeley

Date Written: August 2019

Abstract

Patronage is a byword for poor performance, yet it remains pervasive. We study the selection effects of patronage in the world's most successful navy â?? the British Royal Navy between 1690 and 1849. Using newly collected data on the battle performance of more than 5,800 naval officers promoted â?? with and without family ties â?? to the top of the navy hierarchy, we find that connected promotees outperformed unconnected ones. Therewas substantial heterogeneity among the admirals in charge of promotions. Discretion over appointments thus created scope for "good" and "bad" patronage. Because most admirals promoted on the basis of merit and did not favor their kin, the overall selection effect of patronage was positive.

Keywords: Management, motivation, patronage, Performance, Royal Navy, selection

Suggested Citation

Voth, Hans-Joachim and Xu, Guo, Patronage for Productivity: Selection and Performance in the Age of Sail (August 2019). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13963, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3464489

Hans-Joachim Voth (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - UBS International Center of Economics in Society ( email )

Raemistrasse 71
Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Guo Xu

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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