When is Delegation Abdication?: How Citizens Use Institutions to Help Delegation Succeed

28 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2007

See all articles by Arthur Lupia

Arthur Lupia

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University

Abstract

Modern democracy requires delegation. One common problem with delegation is that principals and agents often have conflicting interests. A second common problem is that principals lack information about their agents. Many scholars conclude that these problems cause delegation to become abdication. We reject this conclusion and introduce a theory of delegation that supports a different conclusion. The theory clarifies when interest conflicts and information problems do (and do not) turn delegation into abdication. We conclude by arguing that remedies for common delegation problems can be embedded in the design of electoral, legislative, and bureaucratic institutions. The culmination of our efforts is a simple, but general, statement about when citizens and legislators can (and cannot) control their agents.

Keywords: delegation, abdication, principal-agent problem, information problems

JEL Classification: D82, D73, D72

Suggested Citation

Lupia, Arthur and McCubbins, Mathew D., When is Delegation Abdication?: How Citizens Use Institutions to Help Delegation Succeed. European Journal of Political Research, Vol. 37, No. 3, 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1002958

Arthur Lupia (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States
734-647-7549 (Phone)
734-764-3341 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: www.umich.edu/~lupia

Mathew D. McCubbins

Department of Political Science and Law School, Duke University ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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