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Merilee Grindle

Harvard Professor and President of the Latin American Studies Association Merilee Grindle will speak Monday, Feb. 3, at 4 p.m. in Bentley Hall 227.

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Latin American Studies Annual Lecture to feature Harvard professor

The Latin American Studies Program at Ohio University’s Center for International Studies is pleased to announce its 2014 Latin American Studies Annual Lecture, “Patronage and Jobs for the Boys: Perspectives on Latin America,” by Harvard Professor and President of the Latin American Studies Association Merilee Grindle.

The lecture is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 3, at 4 p.m. in Bentley Hall 227. This event is free and open to the public.

Grindle is the Edward S. Mason Professor of International Development and director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. In 2013, she was elected president of the Latin American Studies Association, the largest professional association in the world for individuals and institutions engaged in the study of Latin America.

A graduate of the doctoral program in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Grindle is a specialist on the comparative analysis of policymaking, implementation and public management in developing countries, with particular reference to Latin American. She is the author of eight books and numerous articles and chapters, and has published five edited and co-written volumes.

Grindle’s lecture will be based on her most recent book, "Jobs for the Boys: Patronage and the State in Comparative Perspective." In this work, Grindle considers the common practice of patronage as a method of staffing government. She also explores, in a comparative perspective, the contentious processes through which patronage has been replaced by merit-based civil service systems.

At Ohio University, Grindle will discuss examples of the political construction and reform of public service in four Latin American countries: Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Argentina. These countries’ contemporary struggles for reform have involved decades of conflict as well as compromise with supporters of patronage. Their examples remind us that, while we easily revile patronage as undemocratic and corrupt, reforming systems of public service requires careful and lengthy political negotiations. They further caution us to adjust our expectations for institutional change within the public sector and to understand better the role of political compromises in achieving reform.