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Institutional Choice and Bureaucratic Autonomy in Germany

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Although the delegation of government functions to non-majoritarian bodies such as independent agencies has accelerated throughout the OECD, Germany has followed a different path so far. In particular, administrative agencies have only rarely been granted autonomy from direct political control. The main argument is that a genetic code, inherent to the system of government institutions, has routinely auto-piloted choices that involved the design and control of agencies away from principal-agent-like considerations. The elements of this genetic code are outlined and the likelihood of their future persistence is assessed. Even if the pressure to create new agencies at arms length from government has increased, there are still strong incentives to keep them in a subordinate position.
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Keywords: administrative organisation; agencies; institutional design; political control; political preferences

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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