A Theory of Decisive Leadership
51 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2017 Last revised: 13 Mar 2019
Date Written: February 22, 2019
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.
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