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Reputation, Partisanship, and Ideology in the Administrative State

Bellodi, Luca; (2022) Reputation, Partisanship, and Ideology in the Administrative State. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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In democratic government, elected politicians are accountable to voters for the policies they pass. Policies, however, are administered by bureaucracies with possibly large levels of discretion and different preferences from those of elected politicians. The relationship between elected politicians and unelected bureaucrats is therefore both empirically and normatively important: politicians ought to make sure that their electoral mandate translates into policies; and unelected bodies shall be held accountable by politicians, in order to ensure that the administration of policies remains aligned with the will of government. The interactions between politicians and bureaucracy is a classic topic in political science research. While early work on the study of politicians-bureaucracy interactions considered bureaucracy as a passive actor controlled by politicians, recent advancements in the scholarship have demonstrated how bureaucracies can become autonomous actors able to influence their political masters. In this dissertation I study how reputation, partisanship, and ideology affect two main types of interactions: politicians influencing bureaucracies and bureaucracies influencing politicians. Reputation. The political role of bureaucracies consolidates with theories of bureaucratic reputation, which posit that autonomous policy-making occurs when agencies can build a reputation for uniqueness among multiple audiences. However, the literature lacks a valid measure of reputation that changes over time and across agencies, thus limiting the reach of the theory. In Chapter 1, I introduce a new measure of bureaucratic reputation which applies word-embedding techniques to legislative speeches and show how scholars can now test theories of reputation more rigorously and answer new questions in political science. Partisanship. In the hierarchy of government, politicians are superior to bureaucracies, and they can oversee bureaucracies to ensure they align to politician' directives. However, politicians' control of the bureaucracy is a trade-off which is subject to political constraints. In Chapter 2, I show that partisanship biases legislators' statements about bureaucracy and hinders their ability to hold agencies to account. Ideology. The legitimacy of the political and autonomous role of unelected bureaucrats rest with their ability to produce information that can be used by politicians to reduce uncertainty over policy outcomes. However, information can also be a channel of influence for the bureaucracy. In Chapter 3, I demonstrate how bureaucratic influence in the legislative process -- namely the extent to which legislators use the information produced by bureaucracy -- decreases with ideological divergence between legislators and bureaucratic bodies, and how statutory independence can reduce the salience of the ideological divide between legislators and agencies. These theoretical contributions are combined with methodological advancements that expand the use of computational methods to the study of bureaucracy and politicians. I collect large original data and introduce several innovative techniques to measure bureaucratic reputation, politicians' statements about bureaucracy, and legislators' use of bureaucratic information in the legislative process, showing how these measurement strategies can contribute to classic and new questions about political-administrative interactions.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Reputation, Partisanship, and Ideology in the Administrative State
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2022. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: bureaucracy, legislators, natural language processing
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10148517
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