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Performance and Promotions in an Autocracy: Evidence from Nazi Germany

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Scholars of autocracies increasingly debate whether autocratic regimes promote their subordinates based on achievements, such as economic performance, and further a meritocratic system. This article argues that the extent to which autocratic regimes reward economic performance is not constant over the course of an autocratic regime's lifespan but varies depending on the strategic goals of the regime and the regime's ability to monitor its subordinates' performance. We collect a new dataset on the careers of the regional leaders of the German Nazi Party, the Gauleiters, from 1936 to 1944, and a wealth of historical data sources from the regime. Using this, we show that better regional economic performance increased the chance of receiving a promotion before the outbreak of World War II but not after.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2021

This article was made available online on March 4, 2021 as a Fast Track article with title: "Performance and Promotions in an Autocracy: Evidence from Nazi Germany".

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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