Naïve Cronyism and Neutral Competence: Patronage, Performance, and Policy Agreement in Executive Appointments

Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Vol. 25, Issue 2, pp. 341-372, 2015

45 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2014 Last revised: 4 Jan 2016

See all articles by Gary Hollibaugh

Gary Hollibaugh

University of Notre Dame - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

Much of the bureaucratic literature suggests that, when staffing the bureaucracy, executives want agents who are both responsive to their political needs and possess the competence needed to fulfill their directives. However, institutional barriers — such as the requirement for legislative confirmation — exist that may make pursuing a strategy of responsive competence difficult, if not impossible. Here, I examine a model of bureaucratic appointments that allows for informationally imperfect agencies. I show that when legislative assent is required, tradeoffs between ideology and either patronage or agency performance — or both — are often required to ensure legislative confirmation. The same dynamics are not present for unilateral appointments. Finally, using a dataset that incorporates the ideologies of federal program managers, the performance of federal programs, and whether program managers were patronage appointees, I conduct a series of empirical tests that support the model’s predictions.

Keywords: appointments, bureaucracy, presidency, executive agencies

JEL Classification: D7, D70, D73

Suggested Citation

Hollibaugh, Gary, Naïve Cronyism and Neutral Competence: Patronage, Performance, and Policy Agreement in Executive Appointments (2015). Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Vol. 25, Issue 2, pp. 341-372, 2015 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2405163

Gary Hollibaugh (Contact Author)

University of Notre Dame - Department of Political Science ( email )

2060 Jenkins Nanovic Halls
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.garyhollibaugh.com

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