London School of Economics EOPP: Economic Organisation and Public Policy Programme LSE
EOPP: Economic Organisation and Public Policy Programme

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Individual and Collective Performance and the Tenure of British Ministers 1945-1997

Samuel Berlinski, Torun Dewan, Keith Dowding, February 2007
Paper No' PEPP 25: | Full paper (pdf)
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We study the effects of individual and collective ministerial performance on the length of time a minister serves in British government from 1945-97, using the number of resignation calls for a minister as an individual performance indicator and the cumulative number of such calls as an indicator of government performance. Our analysis lends support to a ‘two-strike rule’: ministers facing a second call for their resignation have a significantly higher hazard than those facing their first, irrespective of the performance of the government. A minister’s hazard rate is decreasing in the cumulative number of resignation calls; but conditional on receiving a first resignation call, the hazard rate increases with the number of calls that all government ministers have faced in the past. Our message is that collective ministerial performance is a key determinant of whether a minister survives his first resignation call.