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Neopatrimonialism and public sector performance and reform

Working paper

Written by Tam O'Neil

Working paper

This note introduces the concept of neopatrimonialism, examining its origins and defining characteristics. It then discusses the structural factors that explain the emergence and robustness of neopatrimonial governance in sub-Saharan Africa. This is followed by consideration of the nature of the public sector in sub-Saharan Africa, exploring the implications of neopatrimonialism for public sector capacity and performance. The final section briefly outlines the pattern of reform in Africa and uses political economy analysis – institutional, rational-choice and process approaches – to understand both the dominant trend and variations in reform trajectories in neopatrimonial states.

Tam O’Neil