Between Merit and Politics. Evaluation and Careers Among Diplomats and Officers of the Armed Forces in Argentina

Saturday, 21 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Federico LORENC VALCARCE, University of Mar del Plata, Argentina, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, CONICET, Argentina
Facundo SOLANAS, University of Mar del Plata, Argentina, CONICET- Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani, Argentina
This paper analyzes the evaluation procedures that organize the progression of careers in two professional bodies whose activities are directly linked to the main functions of the State: officers of the armed forces and diplomats. In both cases, during the twentieth century there has been an autonomization of these groups, which have managed to control their recruitment and the type of knowledge and skills that are valued in their members. However, the evaluation of these knowledges and capacities, and therefore the access to prominent positions in each of these bodies, is not exempt from the influence of politics in at least two different ways: one internal, such as military and diplomatic cliques; another external, such as the Senate or the concerned areas of the Executive branch of the government. To address these issues, we primarily rely on interviews with senior officers in military and diplomatic organizations, to explore how certain qualities are appreciated, and how individuals are ranked in order to promote them. Our hypothesis is that in the early stages of the careers there is an idea of merit that, although negotiable and contingent, points to certain technical-professional abilities that are considered to belong to the profession, while in the later stages of the careers are also appreciated and above all political capacities, which do not only include professional knowledge but also trust and loyalty.