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Organizational Capacity, Regulatory Review, and the Limits of Political Control


  • Alexander Bolton
  • Rachel Augustine Potter
  • Sharece Thrower


Studies of administrative politics focus primarily on political control and ignore organizational capacity. We argue that political and organizational factors, as well as the interaction between the two, are necessary for explaining executive policymaking. To test this theory, we consider the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), an agency often perceived to be the president’s political instrument. Using a new dataset of over 22,000 regulations reviewed by OIRA, we demonstrate that political factors influence review lengths, but organizational factors also exhibit a significant role. We find that reviews are longer when OIRA is understaffed and over-worked. Significantly, we demonstrate that low organizational capacity inhibits the president’s ability to expedite priority rules. Overall, this study highlights the organizational limits of political control. (JEL H11, H83, K23, L50, L51, M50)

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander Bolton & Rachel Augustine Potter & Sharece Thrower, 2016. "Organizational Capacity, Regulatory Review, and the Limits of Political Control," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 242-271.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:32:y:2016:i:2:p:242-271.

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    Cited by:

    1. Alexander Bolton & John M. de Figueiredo & David E. Lewis, 2016. "Elections, Ideology, and Turnover in the U.S. Federal Government," NBER Working Papers 22932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H83 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Public Administration
    • K23 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Regulated Industries and Administrative Law
    • L50 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - General
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • M50 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - General


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