Performance and Promotions in an Autocracy: Evidence from Nazi Germany

Lasse Aaskoven and Jacob Nyrup

It is pivotal for the dictator to hire the right subordinates. However, the choice to hire competent subordinates provides the dictator with a dilemma. On one hand, he is heavily reliant on his subordinates to carry out his orders, win wars and create rents. However, these subordinates also pose the greatest threat to the dictator since they may be involved in coups to overthrow the dictator or they may refuse to carry out his orders. This dynamic is therefore essential for understanding the inner workings of authoritarian governance. Lasse Aaskoven and I investigate whether well-performing subordinates in an autocracy are more likely to be promoted, using data from probably the most notorious dictatorship in World history, Nazi Germany.