Paper/Speech Details of Conference Program for the 30th NISPAcee Annual Conference Program Overview Panel: Governance and Politics of Small States Author(s) Jack Corbett University of Southampton Southampton United Kingdom Marlene Jugl (Bocconi University), Wouter Veenendaal (Leiden University) and Roannie Ng Shiu (Australian National University) Title How Does Population Size Influence Administrative Performance? File Paper files are available only for conference participants, please login first. Presenter(s) Jack Corbett Abstract Public administration scholars pay increasing attention to the role of context as a pathway to genuinely comparative analysis. Specifically, they focus on the economic, institutional and socio-cultural conditions in which administration takes place. Population size is an overlooked contextual factor despite the fact that existing studies often make implicit, positive assumptions about the effects of smallness on administrative performance. We investigate these assumptions by focusing on small, rather than large states across three dimensions: representativeness, transparency and service delivery. Drawing on unique qualitative data from three small states from different continents, we find that contra implicit assumptions, small population size does not have the overwhelmingly positive effects that much of the literature assumes. Rather, smallness tends to undermine legal-rational decision making and to facilitate patronage-based service delivery. These findings indicate that the contextual turn in public administration needs to pay more attention to the way population size shapes bureaucratic practice in all states, large and small.