A technocratic pathway to public management reform stresses the need for committing sizeable resources to reform implementation. Building on an institutional framework, we argue that there are alternative pathways to compliant implementation for government agencies with limited resources. Our comparative study of 55 Mexican government agencies that were the object of the 2003 Civil Service Reform Act reveals the co-occurrence of both technocratic and institutional pathways to compliant implementation. The common denominator across pathways in organizations with limited resources was the absence of strong oppositional norms (patronage) and the presence of robust interpersonal trust. We conclude that the role played by available resources in compliant reform implementation is far from straightforward, and depends on different combinations of public organizations' endogenous characteristics.