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date: 10 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article first describes the reasons that the historical-institutional approach has emerged and become prominent over the last thirty years in the study of American bureaucracy. It fully defines historical institutionalism and the characteristics that distinguish it from other approaches to the study of American bureaucracy. In addition, the contributions of this research are discussed in order to understand the American administrative state, as well as attendant claims of American exceptionalism. Summarized next are the contributions of historical institutionalism to various policy areas, including research on policy entrepreneurs, policy and administration, and the welfare state. The article finally evaluates the controversies and challenges that mark the field today, in the process offering advice about how to cope with them and an agenda for future research. The challenges presented should motivate both more historical-institutional research and more soul searching among historical-institutional scholars studying American bureaucracy.

Keywords: American bureaucracy, historical institutionalism, American administrative state, American exceptionalism, policy entrepreneurs, welfare state

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