Mariana Llanos / David Kuehn / Thomas Richter / Martin Acheampong / Esther Song / Emilia Arellano

Personnel, Institutions, and Power: Revisiting the Concept of Executive Personalisation

GIGA Working Papers | 2024

  • Abstract

    Evidence points to an increasing personalisation of political power by chief executives in recent years. It is often argued that such personalisation contributes to the current trend of autocratisation and the global decline of democracy. Yet our understanding hereof remains fractured, not least because there are a plethora of tacit understandings, definitions, and concepts vis-à-vis what political personalisation is. While potentially occurring in both autocracies and democracies, the scholarship is still too often siloed according to regime type. We thus develop a framework defining the phenomenon as a process in which the chief executive personalises power in policymaking and policy implementation by weakening the constraining capacities of relevant actors. The "personalisation of executive power” (PEXP) runs through three distinct mechanisms: personnel management, institutional engineering, and power arrogation. We illustrate the usefulness of our conceptual framework with four case studies during the COVID-19 pandemic: El Salvador, Ghana, South Korea, and Zimbabwe.


    GIGA Working Papers






    German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA)




    Korea Observer | 12.2023

    Personalization of Executive Power After COVID-19 Onset in South Korea

    How has COVID-19 affected the personalization of executive power in South Korea? To answer this question, we draw on the conceptual framework of personalization outlined in the literature concerning democracies and autocracies.


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