- the oxford handbooks of American Politics
- List of Figures
- List of Tables
- List of Abbreviations
- About the Contributors
- A Heritage Made Our Own
- Historical Institutionalism, Political Development, and the Study of American Bureaucracy
- The “First New Federalism” and the Development of the Administrative State, 1883–1929
- A Gendered Legacy?: The Progressive Reform Era Revisited
- Reevaluating Executive‐Centered Public Administrative Theory
- Metaphors and the Development of American Bureaucracy
- Herbert Hoover's Revenge: Politics, Policy, and Administrative Reform Movements
- Agency Theory and the Bureaucracy
- Agency Design and Evolution
- Goal Ambiguity and the Study of American Bureaucracy
- Street‐Level Bureaucracy Theory
- The Promises and Paradoxes of Performance‐Based Bureaucracy
- Leading Through Cultural Change
- Postmodernism, Bureaucracy, and Democracy
- Myths, Markets, and the <i>Visible Hand</i> of American Bureaucracy
- Networking in the Shadow of Bureaucracy
- The Promises, Performance, and Pitfalls of Government Contracting
- Reluctant Partners?: Nonprofit Collaboration, Social Entrepreneurship, and Leveraged Volunteerism
- Policy Tools, Mandates, and Intergovernmental Relations
- Promises, Perils, and Performance of Netcentric Bureaucracy
- Multilevel Methods in the Study of Bureaucracy
- Legislative Delegation of Authority to Bureaucratic Agencies
- “Presidentializing” the Bureaucracy
- Bureaucracy, Democracy, and Judicial Review
- Interest Groups, Rulemaking, and American Bureaucracy
- Policymaking, Bureaucratic Discretion, and Overhead Democracy
- Choice‐Theoretic Approaches to Bureaucratic Structure
- Has Governance Eclipsed Government?
- Revitalizing Human Resources Management
- Representative Bureaucracy
- Innovations in Budgeting and Financial Management
- The Prospects for Revitalizing Ethics in a New Governance Era
- Experimental Methods, Agency Incentives, and the Study of Bureaucratic Behavior
- Name Index
- Subject Index
Abstract and Keywords
This article summarizes several major choice-theoretic approaches to bureaucratic structure. It begins by presenting the contributions of four choice-theoretic approaches to the understanding of bureaucratic structure: social choice theory (SCT), noncooperative game theory, normative theories of choice under uncertainty, and theories of boundedly rational decision making. It also presents an overview of each perspective. SCT highlights a central feature of decision making in democracies: it is a collective choice process. These four choice-theoretic approaches to bureaucratic structure are important for understanding American bureaucracy. The article then turns to six major ways in which SCT can debunk claims about the structures of public agencies. The six relate to Pareto-optimal structures, the ‘inheritance’ thesis, ‘chaos’ theorems, unrealistic aspirations regarding bureaucratic structure, the impossibility of a neutral hierarchy, and information aggregation. It is believed that every important aspect of organizational structure and bureaucratic design can be illuminated by choice-theoretic approaches.
Jonathan Bendor is Professor of Political Economy in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.
Thomas H. Hammond is Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University.
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