Bureaucratic Delegation or Bureaucratic Circumvention? Policymaking Authority in Latin America
28 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2012 Last revised: 22 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2012
Unlike in the U.S. and much of Western Europe, politicians in the developing world are often faced with the challenge of delegating policy to non-professional bureaucracies who cannot guarantee outcomes consistent with lawmakers’ expectations. This begs the question: how do presidents and congresses guarantee predictable bureaucratic outcomes in contexts of low bureaucratic capacity? I argue that instead of delegating policymaking authority to existing government agencies, these countries’ presidents often circumvent the existing bureaucracy, creating new agencies, outsourcing, or delegating to the armed forces. Building on existing delegation games, I develop a formal model that makes four predictions for the occurrence of circumvention: it will increase as the existing bureaucratic agent’s capacity decreases, as the existing agent’s ideal point diverges from the president’s, as the fixed cost to circumventing decreases, and as policy importance increases.
Keywords: Bureaucracy, Delegation, Latin America, Bureaucratic capacity, Policy implementation
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