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Theories of Delegation in Political Science

Theories of Delegation in Political Science

By Jonathan Bendor, Ami Glazer, Thomas Hammond
2000Working Paper No. 1655

We survey modern models of delegation which assume that a boss and subordinate pursue their own goals. Among the major themes covered are the following: the conditions under which the boss will prefer to delegate versus those in which she will prefer to retain authority; the ways in which a boss can induce a subordinate to truthfully reveal information; when rational principals will use the ally principle (i.e., delegate to agents with similar goals); delegation in repeated interactions; and the ways in which delegation can overcome commitment problems. These ideas are applied to a wide variety of institutions, including intra-legislative organization, executive-legislative relations, and central banks.