The Civil Service Examination in Taiwan: AnAssessment and Challenges Ahead





Published date: 

June, 2003


Jay N. Shih


Abstract The civil service examination system in Taiwan differs significantly from those other developed nations. A centralized and independent Examination Yuan established by the constitution has indeed made a great contribution by establishing a generally open competition under an authoritarian regime and, most importantly, has prevented the emergence of a spoils or political patronage system of the type so often seen in developing countries.

Nonetheless, past successes should not lead us to ignore the many challenges that Taiwan’s civil service examination system now faces. This paper raises concerns stemming from the three major policy goals of selection: merit, organizational workforce needs and cost-effectiveness. With Taiwan’s government is facing more challenges from global competition, the civil service examination system has to emphasize the strategic human resource management function more than the prevention of political interference.

Therefore, this paper strongly suggests that the test validity and organizational workforce needs are two main goals that should drive the civil service examination system in the future. In particular, the Examination Yuan should consider reviving the certified lists system so that government agencies can play the major role in deciding whom to hire. In the new era, the Examination Yuan as an "independent" institution has to make civil service selection and public personnel policy that aligns with effective government human resource management. In the end, the civil service examination is not an end in itself. Rather it is simply an instrument for strengthening the ability of government to govern.