The interaction of political incentives and institutional structures significantly shapes the nature of presidential decision making. This interaction generates a unique effect–institutional responsibility–which substantially constrains presidential response to partisan and electoral incentives present in the policy-making environment. After discussing institutional responsibility in the theoretical context of presidential decision making and political economy, the article illustrates this effect in the empirical context of economic policy making in the Eisenhower and Carter administrations. The article demonstrates that the interaction produces an institutionally generated incentive for responsible decision making that often works at cross-purposes with other exogenous incentives for presidential behavior. In doing so, the article develops complementary notions of conditional partisanship and institutional responsibility.