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Title page for ETD etd-06112018-141459

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Limbocker, Scott Andrew
Author's Email Address scott.limbocker@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-06112018-141459
Title Partisanship and Politics in the U.S. Civil Service
Degree PhD
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Joshua Clinton Committee Chair
Alan Wiseman Committee Member
David Lewis Committee Member
Hye Young You Committee Member
Jason Grissom Committee Member
  • Public Administration
  • Presidency
  • Executive Branch
Date of Defense 2018-05-24
Availability unrestricted
Federal civil servants execute the vast majority of modern policy in the United States. Democratic norms dictate that these employees disengage from politics when carrying out their job functions. Yet little empirical evidence has demonstrated this ideal to be carried out in practice. By examining three different behaviors civil servants may or may not participate in, I show that under some conditions politics enters the lives of federal employees. First, political appointees and those that want access to policy are more likely to make a campaign contribution to the president. Second, partisan careerists during the Obama administration were less likely to leave the federal government. Third, appointees are more likely to stay during times of divided government, indicating greater agency autonomy under this institutional arrangement. All three results demonstrate nuance in how federal employees behave and provide important implications for how future work should view civil servants and their behaviors.
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