Political Control and the Power of the Agent
In the study of public bureaucracy, the relationship between political authorities and bureaucrats is commonly understood as one of principal and agent, and analysis centers on how the authorities can try to overcome the information asymmetry at the heart of this relationship--arising from the bureaucrats' expertise and other private information--to exercise a measure of control over their subordinates. In this standard view, information is the source of bureaucratic power. There is a second basis of bureaucratic power, however, that the literature overlooks. Precisely because the authorities are elected, bureaucrats can take political action--especially if organized by public sector unions--to influence who gets elected and what choices they make in office. This gives bureaucrats a political capacity to control their own controllers, putting the usual principal-agent relationship in a very different light. The purpose of this paper, then, is to make a case for the political power of the agent, and to argue for a reorientation of the current theory. In the empirical analysis, the argument is applied to the electoral behavior and impact of public school teachers and their unions--showing that they are quite active and influential in choosing the key authorities that are supposed to be governing them. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 22 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Fax: 01865 267 985
Web page: http://jleo.oupjournals.org/
|Order Information:||Web: http://www.oup.co.uk/journals|
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:22:y:2006:i:1:p:1-29. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press)or (Christopher F. Baum)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.