Why Some Swedish Agencies Lose Their Heads While Others Don’t
30 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
By controlling the screening and selection of executive bureaucrats, political leaders can effectively influence the policy preferences that are ultimately carried out and enforced within a polity. In this paper, we argue that precisely for this reason, partisan conflict over public policies often generates partisan conflict over bureaucratic appointments. To assess the empirical merits of this proposition, we analyze a unique dataset tracing the careers of all agency heads appointed within the executive administration of Sweden between 1960 and 2011. We find that agency heads are significantly more likely to be dismissed when accountable to an ideological opponent of the appointing cabinet than when accountable to an ideological ally of the appointing cabinet. In line with reigning theories of delegation, we conclude that partisan politics colors not only the substantive contents of public policies, but also the organization of the administrative state.
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