Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Public Administration and Policy

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, viii, 213 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Patricia Strach

Committee Members

Ellen V. Rubin, Mitchel Y. Abolafia


corruption, patronage, personnel management, Puerto Rico, Patronage, Political, Civil service, Social integration, Marginality, Social

Subject Categories

Public Administration


Although in place for more than 100 years, Puerto Rico’s merit-based civil-service system still does not function to uphold merit as officially intended. Patronage—the disbursement of public resources or benefits in exchange for political support—is a normal and routine part of governing in Puerto Rico. How does a patronage system work within a formal merit-based system? And, what are the mechanisms that keep patronage in place? Through a mixed-method strategy—including in-depth interviews with public employees, limited participant observation, and analysis of political discrimination and public corruption cases—this research aimed to understand: how patronage works, how patronage relates to the formal merit-based system, how public bureaucrats experience and understand patronage (including the informal belief system and rules that sustain it), and the effects patronage has on government bureaucracy, public policy, and, ultimately, social outcomes.