Why do governments delegate authority to quasi-autonomous agencies? The case of independent administrative authorities in France.
Elgie, Robert (2006) Why do governments delegate authority to quasi-autonomous agencies? The case of independent administrative authorities in France. Governance, 19 (2). pp. 207-227. ISSN 0952-1895
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In recent years, there has been a considerable degree of delegation from governments to quasi-autonomous agencies. Various reasons have been put forward to explain why governments decide to delegate authority in this way (Thatcher 2002, 129-139). Some reasons are based on a transactions cost approach, such as credible commitments. Other reasons are more contextual. For instance, governments may be responding to a process of cross-national policy transfer. In the literature on delegation some hypotheses have already been tested. Specifically, Gilardi (2002) has found evidence to suggest that governments create agencies to credibly commit to particular policy choices. However, other hypotheses, particularly ones based on contextual explanations, have proved much more difficult to operationalise. This article aims to help fill this gap. It does so by focusing on the creation of Independent Administrative Authorities (Autorités administratives indépendantes - AAIs) in France. We examine the reasons for their creation. Why have successive governments created so many AAIs in the last couple of decades? Does the qualitative evidence in this particular case corroborate the quantitative studies that have been undertaken elsewhere? What does the French example tell us about the more general literature on delegation?
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