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The Administrative Presidency and Bureaucratic Control: Implementing a Research Agenda


Andrew Rudalevige is the Walter Beach '56 Distinguished Chair in Political Science at Dickinson College. He is author of Managing the President's Program and The New Imperial Presidency and co-editor of The George W. Bush Legacy.


As Richard Nathan pointed out in The Administrative Presidency 25 years ago, much contemporary policy making occurs through the execution of the laws and the management process. Thus, the conditions under which administrative power can be effectively exercised are important components of future research. In short, we must revisit an old question: Who controls the bureaucracy? This article sets out a research agenda for doing so by examining a set of related strategies that presidents have utilized in their efforts to assert control over the bureaucracy—namely, centralization, politicization, and reorganization—in the course of linking two strands of literature with significant overlap but little conversation between them: the largely quantitative bureaucratic control literature, and the largely qualitative “politicized presidency” literature focused on presidential structures. Each strand, I suggest, can inform and enrich the other; both would benefit from better measures of inputs, outputs, and, crucially, the processes that connect the two and influence the success of policy implementation.