Representation or abdication? How citizens use institutions to help delegation succeed


Journal Article

Modern democracy requires delegation. One problem with delegation is that principals and agents often have conflicting interests. A second problem is that principals lack information about their agents. Many scholars conclude that these problems cause delegation to become abdication. We reject this conclusion and introduce a theory of delegation that supports a different conclusion. The theory clarifies when interest conflicts and information problems do (and do not) turn delegation into abdication. We conclude by arguing that remedies for common delegation problems can be embedded in the design of electoral, legislative, and bureaucratic institutions. The culmination of our efforts is a simple, but general, statement about when citizens and legislators can (and cannot) control their agents.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lupia, A; McCubbins, MD

Published Date

  • January 1, 2000

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 37 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 291 - 307

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0304-4130

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/1475-6765.00514

Citation Source

  • Scopus