Above Politics: Bureaucratic Discretion and Credible Commitment (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions)

Above Politics: Bureaucratic Discretion and Credible Commitment (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions)

By: Gary J. Miller (author), Andrew B. Whitford (author)Paperback

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Economic development requires secure contract enforcement and stable property rights. Normal majority-rule politics, such as bargaining over distributive and monetary policies, generate instability and frequently undermine economic development. Above Politics argues that bureaucracies can contribute to stability and economic development, but only if they are insulated from unstable politics. A separation-of-powers stalemate creates the conditions for bureaucratic autonomy. But what keeps delegated bureaucrats from being more abusive as they become more autonomous? One answer is the negotiation of long-term, cooperative relationships - that (when successful) typically bind subordinates to provide more effort in exchange for autonomy. Even more compelling is professionalism, which embeds its professional practitioners in professional norms and culture, and incidentally mitigates corruption. Financial examples are provided throughout the book, which ends with an analysis of the role played by professionalized bureaucracies during the Great Recession.

About Author

Gary J. Miller is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Washington University, St Louis. He taught previously at California Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, and Washington University's John M. Olin School of Business. Andrew B. Whitford is Alexander M. Crenshaw Professor of Public Policy in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia. His research centers on strategy and innovation in public policy and organization studies. He is currently Editor of the Journal of Public Policy. He is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration. His papers have been published in journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, the American Journal of Public Health, and the American Journal of Political Science.


1. Introduction; 2. The moral hazard of bureaucrats and politicians; 3. Political moral hazard and credible commitment; 4. Political moral hazard and bureaucratic autonomy; 5. 'Above politics': the separation of powers and bureaucratic autonomy; 6. The control paradox, trust, and leadership; 7. Professionalism and credible commitment; 8. The politicization of financial regulation; 9. The financial crisis and reregulation; 10. Conclusion.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781107401310
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 274
  • ID: 9781107401310
  • weight: 410
  • ISBN10: 1107401313

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