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Gridlock and Delegation in a Changing World

Author

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  • Callander, Steven

    (Stanford University)

  • Kreibiel, Keith

    (Stanford University)

Abstract

Fixed statutes and regulations often have variable consequences over time. If left unattended, such drift can severely erode the performance of government as an institution of representation. To better understand the mechanics of policy-making in a changing world, we develop a positive theory that captures political drift in a dynamic, separation-of-powers system. We show analytically that a distinctive combination of legislative supermajoritarianism and agency autonomy institutional features that, in isolation, elicit widespread criticism--can effectively ameliorate policies' susceptibility to the vicissitudes of exogenous change. The critical mechanism for governmental accommodation of drift is delegation, which increases all decision-makers' well-being by reducing fluctuations in outcomes. Although the complete smoothing of outcomes is attainable in a separation of powers system, we show that this is typically not achieved in equilibrium. The presence of drift provides an opportunity for self-interested legislators to extract a distributional benefit from their fellow legislators at the expense of overall policymaking efficiency.

Suggested Citation

  • Callander, Steven & Kreibiel, Keith, 2012. "Gridlock and Delegation in a Changing World," Research Papers 2100, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:2100
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    File URL: https://gsbapps.stanford.edu/researchpapers/library/RP2100.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Josep Colomer, 2005. "Policy making in divided government: A pivotal actors model with party discipline," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 125(3), pages 247-269, December.
    2. Ricardo Alonso & Niko Matouschek, 2008. "Optimal Delegation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 259-293.
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:98:y:2004:i:03:p:481-494_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Callander, Steven, 2008. "A Theory of Policy Expertise," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(2), pages 123-140, July.
    5. Alonso, Ricardo & Matouschek, Niko, 2008. "Optimal delegation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58665, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
    7. Moe, Terry M, 1990. "Political Institutions: The Neglected Side of the Story," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(0), pages 213-253.
    8. Gilligan, Thomas W & Krehbiel, Keith, 1987. "Collective Decisionmaking and Standing Committees: An Informational Rationale for Restrictive Amendment Procedures," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 287-335, Fall.
    9. repec:cup:apsrev:v:98:y:2004:i:02:p:293-310_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Thomas Romer & Howard Rosenthal, 1978. "Political resource allocation, controlled agendas, and the status quo," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 27-43, December.
    11. James Rogers, 2005. "The Impact of Divided Government on Legislative Production," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(1), pages 217-233, April.
    12. repec:cup:apsrev:v:79:y:1985:i:04:p:1041-1060_23 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Sean Gailmard, 2002. "Expertise, Subversion, and Bureaucratic Discretion," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 536-555, October.
    14. Martin, Elizabeth M, 1997. "An Informational Theory of the Legislative Veto," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(2), pages 319-343, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Shadmehr, Mehdi, 2015. "Simple decision rules in small groups: Collegial rule vs. rotational rule," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 51-63.

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