In the current issue of Governance, Victor Lapuente and Marina Nistotskaya challenge conventional wisdom about the factors that lead to the adoption of merit-based civil service systems. Their research — examining 35 developing countries and 39 Russian regions — suggests that rulers who have more security in office are more likely to pursue reform, because they know they will reap its long-term economic benefits. Other considerations — including the level of democratization, electoral competition, or fragmentation of political authority — prove not to be so important as determinants of reform. Lapuente and Nistotskaya caution that “normative implications” about the relative virtues of authoritarian and democratic regimes cannot be inferred from their research. Read more: To the short-sighted victor belong the spoils: Politics and merit adoption in comparative perspective, July 2009 (22.3).