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Merit Versus Kinship: A Category Mistake? The Case Of The Philippine Civil Service


  • Rupert Hodder


SUMMARY Acceptance of merit's pivotal role in establishing and maintaining effective bureaucracies has become second nature. In this paper I explore the association between merit and kinship in the Philippine civil service, although the conclusions that emerge are not peculiar either to the case of the Philippines or to the ‘developing’ world in general. I argue that merit is no less social than kinship; that its meaning for actors is broader, and the value of kinship and other ‘traditional’ social categories of behavior greater, than commentators and reformers often allow for. Indeed, when merit is narrowly defined (as it so often must be for practical reasons) and its complex dimensions ignored, it is socially divisive, produces deep inequalities, and leaves organizations less flexible and less capable of innovation. I suggest that, however paradoxical it might seem, more effective, humanitarian, flexible, and creative organizations thrive in what is often portrayed as an unsatisfactory transitional state between third‐world informality and Weberian‐style formality. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Rupert Hodder, 2014. "Merit Versus Kinship: A Category Mistake? The Case Of The Philippine Civil Service," Public Administration & Development, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 34(5), pages 370-388, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:padxxx:v:34:y:2014:i:5:p:370-388

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