Selecting Top Bureaucrats: Admission Exams and Performance in Brazil

42 Pages Posted: 21 May 2020

See all articles by Ricardo Dahis

Ricardo Dahis

Northwestern University

Laura Schiavon

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Thiago Scot

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Date Written: April 24, 2020

Abstract

In the absence of strong incentive schemes, public service delivery crucially depends on bureaucrat selection. Despite being widely adopted by governments to screen candidates, it is unclear whether civil service examinations can predict job performance. This paper investigates this question by focusing on a highly prestigious and influential set of bureaucrats in Brazil: state judges. We first explore data on judges' monthly output and cross-court movement to separately identify what share of observed performance is explained by judges and courts. We estimate that judges account for at least 23% of the observed variation in the number of cases disposed. Using a novel data set on examinations, we then show that, within cohorts of candidates taking the same exam, those with higher grades perform better than their lower-ranked peers. Our results suggest that competitive examinations can be an effective way to screen candidates, even among highly qualified contenders.

Keywords: Bureaucrat selection, judicial performance, organizational economics

JEL Classification: D73, J45, M50

Suggested Citation

Dahis, Ricardo and Schiavon, Laura and Scot, Thiago, Selecting Top Bureaucrats: Admission Exams and Performance in Brazil (April 24, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3584725 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3584725

Ricardo Dahis

Northwestern University ( email )

2211 Campus Drive
Office 3386
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ricardodahis.com

Laura Schiavon

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Thiago Scot (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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