Quantitative History Webinar Series - Discretion and Destruction: Promotions, Performance, and Patronage in the Royal Navy [Hans-Joachim Voth, University of Zurich]
Live on Zoom on September 17, 2020
09:00 London | 10:00 Zurich | 16:00 Hong Kong/Beijing/Singapore | 17:00 Tokyo | 18:00 Sydney
Patronage is a byword for poor performance, yet its effect on the quality of selection is theoretically ambiguous. Professor Joachim Voth and his co-author study the selection effects of patronage in the world’s most successful navy – the British Royal Navy between 1690 and 1849. Using newly collected data on the battle performance of more than 5,800 naval officers, they find that promotees with family ties to the top of the naval hierarchy outperformed unconnected ones. This result is not driven by better assignments, crews, or equipment. There was substantial heterogeneity among the admirals in charge of promotions. Discretion over appointments thus created scope for ”good” and ”bad” patronage. In this Quantitative History Webinar, Joachim will explain in detail the overall selection effect of patronage.