Political leadership and bureaucratic autonomy. Effects of agencification
In this paper the authors document that agency officials pay significantly less attention to signals from executive politicians than their counterparts within ministerial departments.
Morten Egeberg and Jarle Trondal
Previous studies have shown that agencification tends to undermine political control within a government portfolio. However, doubts have been raised as regards the robustness of these findings. In this paper we document that agency officials pay significantly less attention to signals from executive politicians than their counterparts within ministerial (cabinet-level) departments. This finding holds when we control for variation in tasks, the political salience of issue areas and officials’ rank. Simultaneously we observe that the three control variables all have an independent effect on officials’ attentiveness to a steer from above. In addition we find that the more organisational capacity available within the respective ministerial departments, the more agency personnel tend to assign weight to signals from the political leadership. We apply large-N questionnaire data at three points in time; spanning two decades and shifting administrative doctrines.
A later version of this article was published in Governance, Vol. 22, No. 4, October 2009, pp. 673-688