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.
Huber. 2000. Delegation to civil servants in parliamentary democracies. European Journal of Political Research 37:397-413.
The principal-agent (p-a) model can be used to structure a research agenda on delegation to civil servants in parliamentary democracies. Generally speaking, the p-a model would predict that variations in political and institutional factors (X) would affect the means of delegation that ministers employ (Y). This article doesn't try to prove anything so much as to show how to apply the p-a model to parliamentary democracies.
For example: In situations of high portfolio instability (X), ministers may have trouble controlling their bureaucrats. Thus, global budgets (Y), an ex ante control device, become more common.
The principal-agent framework considers ex ante and ex post mechanisms used to keep agents acting in accordance with principals' beliefs.
Budgets can work both ex ante and ex post
Ministers don't have total control over their ministry. There are other actors (courts, other ministers, the budget process). This can be brought into the p-a framework with the notion of multiple principals.
Cabinets may be one-party or coalition governments, which could also play a role--especially for actions that require cooperation between two or more ministers (if they are from different parties). Again, multiple principles.
Research by the same authors
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