Attention, Institutional Friction, and Policy Change in U.S. Federal Bureaucracies

17 Pages Posted: 2 May 2017

See all articles by Samuel Workman

Samuel Workman

University of Oklahoma

Scott Robinson

University of Oklahoma - Department of Political Science

Tracey Bark

University of Oklahoma - Department of Political Science

Date Written: April 12, 2017

Abstract

This manuscript examines the dynamics of policy change in the U.S. federal bureaucracy. Existing theories of policy change, especially punctuated equilibrium, suggest limited attention and institutional friction as key drivers of punctuated policy change. Yet, scholars have not addressed the relative importance of these factors in leading to the punctuated dynamics associated with the theory. Furthermore, these sources of punctuated policymaking have not been examined alongside theories of delegation and centralization common in the study of American politics. This manuscript uses the considerable institutional variation in the bureaucracy to assess the relative influence of limited attention, institutional friction, and delegation on the dynamics of policy change. The empirical foundation for the analysis is a new data set on the regulatory agenda containing 63,289 agenda items from 2008–2016. The findings demonstrate the differential impacts of limited attention, institutional structure, and delegation on the dynamics of policy change. The findings also highlight the central role of institutional design in policy change, institutional information processing, and agenda setting.

Keywords: Bureaucracy, Regulation, Public Policy, Agenda Setting, Delegation, Institutions

Suggested Citation

Workman, Samuel and Robinson, Scott and Bark, Tracey, Attention, Institutional Friction, and Policy Change in U.S. Federal Bureaucracies (April 12, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2961393 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2961393

Samuel Workman (Contact Author)

University of Oklahoma ( email )

455 E. Lindsey St.
205 Dale Hall Tower
Norman, OK Oklahoma 73019
United States
405-325-5297 (Phone)

Scott Robinson

University of Oklahoma - Department of Political Science ( email )

455 E. Lindsey St.
405 Dale Hall Tower
Norman, OK 73019
United States

Tracey Bark

University of Oklahoma - Department of Political Science ( email )

455 E. Lindsey St.
405 Dale Hall Tower
Norman, OK 73019
United States

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