Between patronage and good governance: organizational arrangements in (local) public appointment processes

Alessandro Sancino, Mariafrancesca Sicilia, Giuseppe Grossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This article investigates whether certain organizational arrangements in (local) public appointment processes could encourage the use of appointments as a tool of good governance rather than as a tool of patronage. Specifically, we studied the role of six organizational arrangements in 10 case studies of intra- and inter-organizational public appointment processes held in Italian local government. We found that good governance (in terms of perception of overall integrity and fairness) was found in processes of public appointments where there was independent scrutiny, and when the process involved local councillors and/or external stakeholders - that is, actors beyond those with the formal power to appoint. In these cases, making appointments was seen as a tool of good governance rather than of patronage. These organizational arrangements were more relevant than other ones such as the transparency of public advertisements, job descriptions and educational/professional requirements, and media and public awareness. The article describes the relevant literature and the research study, and discusses implications for research, policy and management. Points for practitioners In terms of policy implications, the article discusses the importance of ensuring transparency and some form of checks and balances in the power of making public appointments, as well as of promoting more awareness among citizens and society in general of the issue of public appointments. From a managerial point of view, the article suggests that public managers should consider the implications of the different organizational arrangements that can be used in public appointment processes to exploit the good governance potential of public appointments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-802
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Review of Administrative Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Economics and Business (502)


  • Corruption
  • Italy
  • good governance
  • local government
  • patronage
  • politicians
  • public appointments
  • public governance
  • public managers


Dive into the research topics of 'Between patronage and good governance: organizational arrangements in (local) public appointment processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this