The Argentinian Civil Service: and unfinished search for identity
The new forms of economic and political domination that emerge in those societies undergoing harsh processes of structural adjustment and state reform, have raised a central concern in the specialized literature: the governance of these societies in view of the potential conflicts caused by widening gaps in the patterns of income and wealth distribution, however successful they may have been in stabilizing the economy, reducing fiscal deficit or streamlining the public bureaucracy. Civil service systems are at the core of these concerns, given their role in achieving performance and legitimacy--two key issues that involve the very existence and reproduction of states and societies. This paper presents an overview of the historical formation and development of the Argentine civil service system, in order to explain its present configuration, to analyze its specificity vis-a-vis other models and experiences, and to assess its capacity to assume the new roles derived from changing rules in state-society relationships. The main conclusion of the paper is that the Argentine civil service is still in search of an identity. Impressive transformations in the functional domain of the state have not been accompanied by reforms aimed at strengthening its performance and legitimation.