Bureaucratic Circumvention: Task Allocation and Policy Implementation in Low Capacity Bureaucracies, with Evidence from Latin America
48 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2013
Date Written: 2013
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. I argue that these countries’ presidents often circumvent the existing bureaucracy, creating new agencies, outsourcing, or delegating to the armed forces when they seek predictable outcomes. Building on existing delegation games, I develop a formal model of circumvention dependent on bureaucratic capacity, policy importance, and presidential and agency ideologies. These propositions are then tested through maximum likelihood estimation using an original database of delegation decisions from over 35,000 presidential decrees in Latin America. I find that an increase in circumvention is caused by a decrease in existing agency capacity, an increase in the importance of the policy being pursued, an increase in ideological distance between the president and the agent, and a decrease in the cost associated with circumventing. However, these factors have differential effects on individual circumvention strategies.
Keywords: Bureaucracy, Executive politics, Delegation, Task allocation, Latin America
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