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Incremental Consolidation and Comprehensive Reorganization of American State Executive Branches


  • Michael B. Berkman,

  • Christopher Reenock

  • We thank Thomas Carsey, Sarah Poggione, Christine Mahoney, Frank Baumgartner, Eric Plutzer, and Charles Barrilleaux for their assistance with this article. We are especially grateful to Richard Chackerian for sharing his data with us. A previous version of this article was presented at the American Political Science Association Meetings. Three reviewers offered especially insightful and helpful comments on earlier drafts.

Michael B. Berkman is an Associate Professor of Political Science at The Pennsylvania State University, 321 Pond Laboratory, University Park, PA 16802 ( Christopher Reenock is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at The Florida State University, 545 Bellamy Building, Tallahassee, FL 32306-2230 (


Many questions remain about the causes and implications of state government reorganization. Using an original data set on agency consolidation in the states between 1950 and 1992, we show that executive branch restructuring occurs incrementally as well as through better recognized comprehensive reorganization. With continuous state-space modeling we show that these different reform paths are related and driven by distinct political and economic conditions. We also show that, contrary to previous findings, state attempts to alter their administrative organizations do impact long-term employment growth rates. Although smaller in magnitude, incremental as well as comprehensive reforms can enhance administrative efficiency. Further, unlike the Baumgartner and Jones (1993, 2002) punctuated-equilibrium model, we do not find evidence that incrementalism gives way to bursts of nonincremental change. Rather, incremental adjustments to the status quo may be sufficient to reduce the possibility the possibility of comprehensive reorganization at any point in the future.