A Theory of Decisive Leadership

51 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2017 Last revised: 13 Mar 2019

See all articles by B. Douglas Bernheim

B. Douglas Bernheim

Stanford University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Aaron Bodoh-Creed

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Date Written: February 22, 2019

Abstract

We present a theory that rationalizes voters' preferences for decisive leaders. Greater decisiveness entails an inclination to reach decisions more quickly conditional on fixed information. Although speed can be good or bad, agency problems between voters and politicians create preferences among voters for leaders who perceive high costs of delay and have little uncertainty about how to weigh different aspects of the decision problem, and hence who make decisions more rapidly than typical voters. Officials who aspire to higher office therefore signal decisiveness by accelerating decisions. In elections, candidates with reputations for greater decisiveness prevail despite making smaller compromises, and therefore earn larger rents from office holding.

Suggested Citation

Bernheim, B. Douglas and Bodoh-Creed, Aaron, A Theory of Decisive Leadership (February 22, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3012726 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3012726

B. Douglas Bernheim

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States
650-725-8732 (Phone)
650-725-5702 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Aaron Bodoh-Creed (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.haas.berkeley.edu/acreed/

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