As a legacy of Imperial China, the Taiwan civil service entrance examination (CSEE) represents the hallmark of a unique exam-centred meritocracy, in which government agencies and public managers are deprived of selection power. This system diverges from the trend of managerialism in Anglo-Saxon countries. This paper argues that the evolution of meritocracy in Taiwan has been built around the CSEE and has contributed to a top-down state-building approach. The current system is a product of a long-term power struggle among the Examination Yuan, government agencies, and civil service examinees. In contrast to the popular framework of patronage versus merit, the policy debate in Taiwan is better framed as whether or not recruitments are made on the basis of competitive examination. The value of ‘equality’ is upheld at the expense of the value of ‘competence’.
Australian Journal of Public Administration 10.1111/1467-8500.12139