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Moe: Control and feedback in economic regulation

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 even say who wrote them. If you have more recent summaries to add to this collection, send them my way I guess. Sorry for the ads; they cover the costs of keeping this online.

Moe. 1985. Control and feedback in economic regulation: The case of the NLRB. APSR 79: 1094-1116.

MAIN POINT:

Bureaucracies are influenced by a variety of forces. Models that focus only on one-way, diadic relationships (e.g. Congress and the bureaucracy) in the name of parsimony do so at the cost of great losses in accuracy. In fact, several forces affect bureaucratic behavior. Moe proves his point through a statistical analysis of voting at the National Labor Relations Board. All the factors below matter.

Two-tiered hierarchy:

ENDOGENOUS Xs WITHIN THE BOARD:

The NLRB makes rulings for/against complaints submitted by either labor or business. Step 1: A complaint is filed. Step 2: NLRB staff decide whether the complaint has enough merit to get a vote. Step 3: The five NLRB directors vote on the complaint. These three steps all affect one another. Step 1 is influenced by the expected outcome of Step 3 (does the current board favor labor or business?). Step 2 is influenced by both Step 1 and by the staff's expectations about what will happen in Step 3 (staff will forward more labor complaints to the board if the board is more pro-labor). And Step 3 is affected by what happens at Step 1 and Step 2. So Steps 1, 2, and 3 are all endogenous factors.

EXOGENOUS POLITICAL VARIABLES (table 2)

The president can affect the NLRB, primarily through his appointment, but also through executive orders and other mechanisms (table 3). The Congress can affect the NLRB through committee hearings, publicitiy, and other mechanisms. And the courts can overrule the NLRB, deterring it from deviant decisions.

EXOGENOUS ECONOMIC VARIABLES

Unemployment, inflation, and unionization can affect whether labor or business is more likely to submit more claims (table 5). They also affect whether NLRB staff favors labor over business (table 4).

CRITICISM:

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Tags

Moe, Terry (author)Political ScienceAmerican PoliticsBureaucracyDelegation and Discretion

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