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Politics of administrative design

Research project
Avslutad forskning
Project size
4 164 000 SEK
Project period
2015 - 2017
Project owner
Department of Political Science

Short description

In this project, we examine the relationship between partisan politics and the design of administrative agencies. A central insight from recent research on delegation is that politicians become more inclined to delegate and grant discretion to an agency the closer the agency´s policy preferences are to those of the legislative floor. Of course, precisely because bureaucrats have interests of their own, politicians tend to make use of administrative institutions that promotes compliance before rather than after an agency has opportunity to defect.

Our hypothesis is that by structuring bureaucratic incentives in their favour ex ante, however, the ruling political elite also alters the incentives of subsequent governing coalitions to intervene in agency decision-making ex post. Specifically, subsequent governing coalitions become more inclined to punish agencies inherited from coalitions with conflicting interests and reward agencies inherited from coalitions with common interests.

To evaluate this proposition, we will assemble a unique dataset charting the core characteristics of all administrative agencies in Sweden between 1960 and 2014 and model the effects of partisan shifts in government using advanced statistical methods. In so doing, the project will contribute both with a set of unusually rigorous tests of one of the most salient theories of administrative design in the international literature as well as novel information about the particularities of the Swedish case.