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Merit-based recruitment boosts good governance: how do European Union agencies recruit their personnel?


Egeberg, M., Å. Gornitzka and J. Trondal


Studies show that public administrations that practise merit-based recruitment of their personnel are significantly less marked by corruption than administrations that do not recruit in this manner. While we know a lot about how EU member states score with regard to the degree of merit-based recruitment within their administrations, and also how the European Commission administration performs in this respect, recruitment practices within the increasing number of European Union regulatory (decentralized) agencies seem to remain a white spot in the literature so far. In this article, we make a first step in mapping recruitment practices within the secretariats of such agencies. We also investigate if it matters whether a European Union agency is located in a country marked by a non-meritocratic administrative culture or not. The article shows that European Union agencies seem to overwhelmingly apply meritocratic instruments when hiring people, regardless of their location.

Points for practitioners

This article argues and shows that recruitment based on merit enhances good and non-corrupt governance. The case in point is European Union agencies. The data presented illuminate that these agencies generally apply meritocratic instruments when hiring administrative staff. The study also shows that recruitment practices are not affected by the geographical location of European Union agencies. These agencies tend to practise the common merit-based European Union standards regardless of their location since agencies are components of the European Union administration.

Published in: International Review of Administrative Sciences 85(2): 247-263 (2019)