The Determinants of the Perceptions of Political Control of the Bureaucracy and the Venues of Influence

Waterman, Richard W.; Rouse, Amelia
October 1999
Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory;Oct99, Vol. 9 Issue 4, p527
Academic Journal
In addition to their perceptions of the influence of individual political principals, Waterman, Rouse, and Wright (1998) state that agents also perceive influence as deriving from groups of principals that exhibit some common characteristic. For example, in their study of the attitudes of enforcement personnel from the Environmental Protection Agency, agents identified a similarity in the influence exerted by the agency's hierarchical masters, Congress and the president, both of which exert budgetary and statutory control over the EPA. Likewise, legal principals, such as the federal and state courts, were perceived by agents to have an adjudicatory authority. The president's appointees (the EPA administrator and the regional administrators) provided internal hierarchical authority over the agency. So-called linkage mechanisms (e.g., the media and public opinion) and material interest groups (business and agricultural interest groups) exerted outside influence on the agency. The authors posited that the type of influence exerted by each of these venues of influence is important, because it frames the manner in which agents respond to their principals (e.g., with substantive, symbolic, or legal responses).In this article we provide a test of the venues theory. We examine the perceptions of federal and state-level bureaucratic agents to determine both how much influence the agents perceive a variety of political principals exert and which determinants explain this perceived influence. In so doing we are particularly interested in determining if patterns in perceptions of influence can be identified across and within the different venues of influence. In other words, do agents perceive that different policy actors within the same venue exert a similar level of influence? Are the determinants of perceptions of political influence similar within venues? Are these patterns similar in federal and state-level agencies? Such evidence would provide additional support for...


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