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The Role of Political Ideology in the Structural Design of New Governance Agencies


Anthony Bertelli is assistant professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at the University of Georgia. In addition to a book-length treatment of quasi-government, his current research interests are comparative governance and the statistical measurement of ideology. He is author of Madison’s Managers: Public Administration and the Constitution (with Laurence E. Lynn, Jr., Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006). E-mail:


This paper employs theories of structural politics and delegation to develop a set of propositions about the legislative delegation of authority to quasi-governmental entities, known as “quangos.” Legislators have incentives to condition their choice of structure for an organization charged with implementing policy on their own political attitudes toward “good government.” The quasi-independence of quangos provides credibility for legislators to commit to a process that takes policy making out of their hands while creating a structure that increases the likelihood of achieving their policy goals. Theoretical implications are empirically examined using data on the financial autonomy of Dutch public bodies. The results support the argument that it is important to consider politicians’ ideologies directly in governance studies because they form the key component of structural politics.