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Nonmajoritarian Institutions and the Limits of Democratic Governance: A Political Transaction-Cost Approach

Giandomenico Majone

Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), 2001, vol. 157, issue 1, 57-78

Abstract: This paper is a first step towards a positive theory of nonmajoritarian institutions. Delegation of powers to such institutions is best understood as a means of reducing certain political transaction costs. The precise nature of the relation between political sovereign and independent delegate has not been carefully investigated. Both economists and political scientists tend to rely on the available results of principal-agent theory. This paper shows why this approach is not entirely satisfactory. While the key problems of agency theory - hidden action and hidden information - are present in any relation based on specialisation and the division of labour, they are not central to the context investigated here. Instead, I argue that the fiduciary principle should be recognised as the central element in the governance structure of nonmajoritarian institutions.

JEL-codes: D23 D70 L14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2001
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