Imperial Rule, the Imposition of Bureaucratic Institutions, and their Long-Term Legacies

World Politics, 71(4), 806-863; DOI:10.1017/S004388711900008X

Posted: 5 Nov 2019

Date Written: August 27, 2019


Significant variation in the institutions and efficiency of public bureaucracies across countries and regions are observed. These differences could be partially responsible for divergence in the effectiveness of policy implementation, corruption levels, and economic development. Do imperial legacies contribute to the observed variation in the organization of public administrations? Historical foreign rule and colonization have been shown to have lasting effects on legal systems, political institutions, and trade in former controlled territories. Imperial legacies could also explain variations in the performance of public administrations. The author uses the case of Poland to investigate the long-term effects of foreign rule on bureaucratic systems. Historically, Poland was split between three imperial powers with very different public administrations: Prussia, Austria, and Russia. Statistical analyses of original data collected through a survey of more than 650 Polish public administrations suggest that some present-day differences in the organization and efficiency of bureaucracies are due to imperial legacies.

Keywords: Austria-Hungary, Bureaucracy, Centralization, Colonial Origins, Corruption, Culture and Institutions, Decentralization, Direct Rule, Eastern Europe, Empires, Foreign Rule, German Empire, Imperial Legacies, Indirect Rule, Path Dependence, Patronage

JEL Classification: D02, D73, F54, H83

Suggested Citation

Vogler, Jan P., Imperial Rule, the Imposition of Bureaucratic Institutions, and their Long-Term Legacies (August 27, 2019). World Politics, 71(4), 806-863; DOI:10.1017/S004388711900008X , Available at SSRN:

Jan P. Vogler (Contact Author)

University of Virginia ( email )

PO Box 400787
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904
United States

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