Publication in JPART

Representative Bureaucracy and Public Hiring Preferences. Evidence from a Conjoint Experiment among German Municipal Civil Servants and Private Sector Employees (online first) Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, with Michael Jankowski and Markus Tepe


Drawing on Weber, this study tests whether the normative principles of merit orientation and impartiality are more prevalent in shaping public hiring preferences among civil servants – both junior and senior – than among private sector employees. In a conjoint experiment, respondents are asked to compare two hypothetical applicants for an office job in a municipal administration and to decide which they would hire. The application profiles vary with respect to a set of meritocratic and nonmeritocratic attributes. The empirical findings suggest that first, in all three samples, hiring decisions are primarily based on meritocratic attributes. Second, there is evidence of ethnic discrimination in the private employee sample, while there is no such effect in either of the two civil servant samples. Third, private employees’ hiring preferences are influenced by personal political beliefs, while civil servants are less likely to let political attitudes affect their hiring choices. Thus, while civil servants hiring preferences are largely consistent with passive representation and non-discrimination, support for a representative bureaucracy among citizens should be improved.