Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 19 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Rational choice theories of bureaucratic interests started simple and have become somewhat more sophisticated over time. Early, “classical” models stressed either budget maximization or rent seeking as dominant motivations and predicted chronically unbalanced or dysfunctional outcomes—respectively, bureaucratic oversupply or radical undersupply (to create artificial scarcity rents). They also assumed a woefully uninformed legislature or ministers. Revisionist models stress more complex pictures. Bureau-shaping theory argues that the diversity of agency structures creates differing motivations—so that some top officials may oversupply (e.g. in defense), while others create queues or overcut budgets (e.g. in welfare areas). Some agencies or nongovernmental organizations achieve particular “market” constructs, where a pooling equilibrium is successfully created, attracting only intrinsically motivated staff to work in a mission-specific organization. Bureaucracies’ use of hierarchy has also been defended in economic terms—for reasons analogous to those maintaining large firms, or as a rational response to delegation issues in “normal” democracies, where delegation is straightforward. In the United States, delegation to bureaucracies is more complex and directly contingent on political factors, in Congress especially.

Keywords: asset specificity, bureaucracy, contracting out, delegation, incentivization, opportunism, oversupply thesis, pluralism, rent seeking, Weberian theory

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.