▪ Abstract 

With tools borrowed from the economic analysis of insurance, principal-agency theory has allowed political scientists new insights into the role of information asymmetry and incentives in political relationships. It has given us a way to think formally about power as the modification of incentives to induce actions in the interests of the principal. Principal-agency theory has evolved significantly as political scientists have sought to make it more applicable to peculiarly political institutions. In congressional oversight of the bureaucracy, increasing emphasis has been placed on negotiation of administrative procedures, rather than the imposition of outcome-based incentives, as originally conceived. Awareness of the problem of credible commitment has impelled more dramatic reformulations, in which agents perform their function only when their interests conflict with those of the principal, and they are guaranteed some degree of autonomy.

(Weber 1958)


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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