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Governing Through Intermediaries

Samuel Issacharoff

New York University School of Law

Daniel R. Ortiz

University of Virginia School of Law

June 1, 1999

Virginia Law Review, 1999
University of Virginia Law School, Legal Studies Working Paper No. 99-6

Governing Through Intermediaries explores political representation through the lens of agency costs. In particular, it looks at the role intermediaries play in our political system and describes many of them as "superagents," that is, agents who monitor and supervise primary agents on behalf of political principals. While these superagents can help reduce the primary agency costs inherent in representation, they threaten to add a whole new layer of superagency costs to the relationship. We must consider these other costs in designing our political structures. We consider two problems in particular: superagent shirking and fractionated supervision of interests. We also consider the dangers of superagent rent-seeking. While focusing on corporations, unions, and political parties as superagents, the analysis applies to many other entities as well. The piece ends by applying superagency analysis to several thorny issues in campaign finance regulation.

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Date posted: July 12, 1999 ; Last revised: September 17, 2013

Suggested Citation

Issacharoff, Samuel and Ortiz, Daniel R., Governing Through Intermediaries (June 1, 1999). Virginia Law Review, 1999; University of Virginia Law School, Legal Studies Working Paper No. 99-6. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=169268 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.169268

Contact Information

Samuel Issacharoff
New York University School of Law ( email )
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
212-998-6580 (Phone)
212-995-3150 (Fax)
Daniel R. Ortiz (Contact Author)
University of Virginia School of Law ( email )
580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
804-924-3127 (Phone)
804-924-7536 (Fax)

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