Meritocracy and Public Service Excellence


  • Max Everest-Philipps Director, UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence


Meritocracy can drive social mobility and benefit both individuals and larger society. As such, states governed by meritocratic principles enjoy higher economic growth through better performing public service. In this way, this paper discusses the Singapore’s case of turning meritocracy into a development factor. Specifically, author considers the role of Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore, in building the country’s meritocratic civil service and fostering good public administration through public servants’ motivation, promotion of the rule of law, integrity, and
non-tolerance of corruption. Author, accordingly, suggests that Singapore’s successful case can serve as a catalyst for other countries in their pursuit of public service excellence despite newly emerging debates over the notion and understanding of meritocracy.