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Policy-Specific Information and Informal Agenda Power

Alexander V. Hirsch and Kenneth W. Shotts
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Alexander V. Hirsch: Princeton University
Kenneth W. Shotts: Stanford University

Papers from Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy

Abstract: In Gilligan and Krehbiel's models of procedural choice in legislatures, a committee exerts costly effort to acquire private information about an unknown state of the world. Subsequent work on expertise, delegation, and lobbying has largely followed this approach. In contrast, we develop a model of information as policy valence. We use our model to analyze a procedural choice game, focusing on the effect of transferability, i.e., the extent to which information acquired to implement one policy option can be used to implement a different policy option. We find that when information is transferable, as in Gilligan and Krehbiel's models, closed rules can induce committee specialization. However, when information is policy-space's, open rules are actually superior for inducing specialization. The reason for this surprising result is that a committee lacking formal agenda power has a greater incentive to exercise informal agenda power by exerting costly effort to generate high-valence legislation.

Date: 2010-08
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