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Wood: Principals, bureaucrats, and responsiveness in Clean Air enforcements

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.

Wood. 1988. Principals, bureaucrats, and responsiveness in Clean Air enforcements. APSR.

In Brief

For a long time, scholars thought that agencies acted independently. After all, they have expertise, constituency, vitality, and leadership (see Rourke 1984). A more recent tradition (principal-agent) sees elected officials as having control over the bureaucracy; quite a bit of empirical work supports this view. But Wood shows that both traditions are right, to a degree; although Reagan's assault on the EPA did reduce regulation for a while, there is clear evidence that the EPA was pushing hard against the president.


Month-by-month time series data from 1977 to 1985.

Independent Variables

Reagan's assault on the EPA had three major stages.

Findings (see Figure 2)


Methodological point

Research by the same authors

Research on similar subjects


Wood, Dan (author)American PoliticsBureaucracyResponsivenessCongress (U.S.)

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