Credible governance? Transparency, political control, the personal vote and British quangos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article claims that special-purpose independent agencies such as quangos provide an avenue for understanding the 'personal vote' and political control of administrative policy making in Britain. Quangos make policies that directly influence particularistic concerns in an MP's constituency, generating incentives for MPs to meddle with their independence in order to capture the personal vote. A division of labor within the governing party relies on back-bench MPs to sound 'fire alarms' when their constituents find fault with quango activities. Once the alarms are sounded, the government has the incentive to manipulate quangos' independence, for example, by making their decision making transparent to provide information for the fire alarm mechanism in the future. This manipulation draws from the government's stock of political capital gained from a supportive electorate. Statistical analysis of transparency in British executive non-departmental public bodies from 2002 to 2005 suggests that increases in back-bench salience (personal vote) and public satisfaction with government (government strength) increase the transparency by which quangos make decisions, thus decreasing their independence. Public satisfaction with the status quo of public service provision, by contrast, decreases transparency, increasing independence. These results suggest that far from being fully independent, quasi-governmental organizations are subject to political control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)807-829
Number of pages23
JournalPolitical Studies
Volume56
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2008

Fingerprint

political control
transparency
voter
governance
incentive
administrative policy
division of labor
statistical analysis
public service
manipulation
decision making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Credible governance? Transparency, political control, the personal vote and British quangos. / Bertelli, Anthony.

In: Political Studies, Vol. 56, No. 4, 12.2008, p. 807-829.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{94e3b61dd43e4330a46b5ed42b4cc5dd,
title = "Credible governance? Transparency, political control, the personal vote and British quangos",
abstract = "This article claims that special-purpose independent agencies such as quangos provide an avenue for understanding the 'personal vote' and political control of administrative policy making in Britain. Quangos make policies that directly influence particularistic concerns in an MP's constituency, generating incentives for MPs to meddle with their independence in order to capture the personal vote. A division of labor within the governing party relies on back-bench MPs to sound 'fire alarms' when their constituents find fault with quango activities. Once the alarms are sounded, the government has the incentive to manipulate quangos' independence, for example, by making their decision making transparent to provide information for the fire alarm mechanism in the future. This manipulation draws from the government's stock of political capital gained from a supportive electorate. Statistical analysis of transparency in British executive non-departmental public bodies from 2002 to 2005 suggests that increases in back-bench salience (personal vote) and public satisfaction with government (government strength) increase the transparency by which quangos make decisions, thus decreasing their independence. Public satisfaction with the status quo of public service provision, by contrast, decreases transparency, increasing independence. These results suggest that far from being fully independent, quasi-governmental organizations are subject to political control.",
author = "Anthony Bertelli",
year = "2008",
month = "12",
doi = "10.1111/j.1467-9248.2007.00713.x",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "56",
pages = "807--829",
journal = "Political Studies",
issn = "0032-3217",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Credible governance? Transparency, political control, the personal vote and British quangos

AU - Bertelli, Anthony

PY - 2008/12

Y1 - 2008/12

N2 - This article claims that special-purpose independent agencies such as quangos provide an avenue for understanding the 'personal vote' and political control of administrative policy making in Britain. Quangos make policies that directly influence particularistic concerns in an MP's constituency, generating incentives for MPs to meddle with their independence in order to capture the personal vote. A division of labor within the governing party relies on back-bench MPs to sound 'fire alarms' when their constituents find fault with quango activities. Once the alarms are sounded, the government has the incentive to manipulate quangos' independence, for example, by making their decision making transparent to provide information for the fire alarm mechanism in the future. This manipulation draws from the government's stock of political capital gained from a supportive electorate. Statistical analysis of transparency in British executive non-departmental public bodies from 2002 to 2005 suggests that increases in back-bench salience (personal vote) and public satisfaction with government (government strength) increase the transparency by which quangos make decisions, thus decreasing their independence. Public satisfaction with the status quo of public service provision, by contrast, decreases transparency, increasing independence. These results suggest that far from being fully independent, quasi-governmental organizations are subject to political control.

AB - This article claims that special-purpose independent agencies such as quangos provide an avenue for understanding the 'personal vote' and political control of administrative policy making in Britain. Quangos make policies that directly influence particularistic concerns in an MP's constituency, generating incentives for MPs to meddle with their independence in order to capture the personal vote. A division of labor within the governing party relies on back-bench MPs to sound 'fire alarms' when their constituents find fault with quango activities. Once the alarms are sounded, the government has the incentive to manipulate quangos' independence, for example, by making their decision making transparent to provide information for the fire alarm mechanism in the future. This manipulation draws from the government's stock of political capital gained from a supportive electorate. Statistical analysis of transparency in British executive non-departmental public bodies from 2002 to 2005 suggests that increases in back-bench salience (personal vote) and public satisfaction with government (government strength) increase the transparency by which quangos make decisions, thus decreasing their independence. Public satisfaction with the status quo of public service provision, by contrast, decreases transparency, increasing independence. These results suggest that far from being fully independent, quasi-governmental organizations are subject to political control.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=55149097490&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=55149097490&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2007.00713.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2007.00713.x

M3 - Article

VL - 56

SP - 807

EP - 829

JO - Political Studies

JF - Political Studies

SN - 0032-3217

IS - 4

ER -