Do Elections Always Notivate Incumbents? Learning Vs Career Concerns
This paper studies a principal-agent model of the relationship between officeholder and the electorate, where everyone is initially uninformed about the officeholder’s ability. If office-holder effort and ability interact in the determination of performance in office, then an office-holder has an incentive to learn i.e. raise effort so that performance becomes a more accurate signal of her ability. Elections reduce the learning effect, and the reduction in this effect may more than offset the positive “career concerns” effect of elections on effort. Moreover, when this occurs, appointment of officials may welfare-dominate elections.
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