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Bureaucratic Reform In Developing Countries: A Comparison of Presidential and Parliamentary Rule


  • Delia M. Boylan


While the study of comparative bureaucratic organization within the advanced, industrial democracies has made significant progress in recent years (Moe and Caldwell, 1994), we have a much thinner understanding of the causes and consequences of bureaucratic structure in the developing world. This paper begins to advance this research agenda by comparing central bank reform in strongly presidentialist Venezuela with Poland’s system of multi-party parliamentary rule, in order to generate two hypotheses about both the timing and persistence of bureaucratic reform across different institutional settings. First, I maintain that, fearing agency loss and diminished policy-making flexibility, executives in presidential democracies have incentives to wait until the very end of their term before insulating their policy preferences in an institutional form. In contrast, the inherently unstable nature of multi party coalitions within most parliamentary systems argues for undertaking the insulation task right at the beginning of one’s term in office. Second, I argue that because of their extreme concentration of power, Latin America’s presidential democracies are highly susceptible to institutional instability, while the multiple veto gates embedded in Eastern Europe’s parliamentary democracies render them inherently more resilient to subsequent tampering by politicians. The paper concludes by noting the implications the analysis has for the current literature on policy reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Delia M. Boylan, 1999. "Bureaucratic Reform In Developing Countries: A Comparison of Presidential and Parliamentary Rule," Working Papers 9914, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:9914

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