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Ferejohn and Shipan: Congressional influence on administrative agencies

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Ferejohn and Shipan. 1989. Congressional influence on administrative agencies. In Congress Reconsidered, 4th ed, eds Lawrence Dodd and Bruce Oppenheimer. Washington: CQ Press..


There are a couple of common theories about what motivates people in Congress:


In relation to the bureaucracy, Congress is somewhere between the deliberative and electoral view. Members of Congress do sometimes want an agency to change its policy. The agency might not fear legislation, knowing that its Congressional committee is probably sympathetic to it. So the Committee members make speeches embracing the Chamber's view as a signal to the agency that it had better change, or else risk facing new legislation.

X: Signalling by members of Congress (hiding their real preferences). Agencies try to avoid punishment by doing what Congress wants, so they pay attention to these signals. Y: Induce an agency to change a policy without actually passing new legislation.

See the diagrams on 398 and 399 (pg 4/11 in PDF).

Research by the same authors

Research on similar subjects


Ferejohn, John (author)Shipan, Charles (author)Comparative PoliticsBureaucracyPrincipal-Agent

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