An archipelago of excellence?: autonomous capacity among Brazilian state agencies
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Drawing on the Brazilian case, this paper develops a new measure of state capacity for evaluating the performance of specific bureaucratic agencies within national states. The measure, which is made possible by the rising availability of online information about government personnel, permits a nuanced evaluation of influential theoretical questions regarding developmental capacity, state autonomy, and the politicization of state bureaucracies. We first set out a basic definition of state capacity, distinguishing it from other related concepts and definitions in the social science literature. We then present an objective new measure, the State Capacity Index (SCI), which evaluates state agencies on three axes: career strength, agency career specialization, and politicization. We conclude with some preliminary tests of the measure‘s utility in analyzing agency level capacity in Brazil, with specific reference to the literature on corruption and accountability.