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Moe: The politics of structural choice

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.

Moe. 1990. The politics of structural choice: Toward a theory of public bureaucracy. In Organizational Theory from Chester Bernard to the Present, ed. Oliver Williamson, pp. 116-153. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Moe gives a theory of bureaucracy that involves political and bureaucratic actors and interest groups. Describing the bureaucracy in terms of a two-tier hierarchy, he argues that the problem of information leads to interest group importance (based on reputation). But at the same time the problems of political uncertainty and compromise are always present. This shapes interest group interaction with the president, bureaucracy, and legislature, and ultimately constricts and structures bureaucracy.

Fit in Literature

Argues against McCubbins, Noll, and Weingast (1987).


Research by the same authors

Research on similar subjects


Moe, Terry (author)EconomicsBureaucracyCongress (U.S.)InstitutionsOrigins of InstitutionsIncentives in Politics

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