Date of Award

6-25-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Robert M. Howard - Chair

Second Advisor

David C. Nixon

Third Advisor

Richard N. Engstrom

Fourth Advisor

Scott E. Graves

Abstract

Unelected bureaucrats make a broad range of important policy decisions raising concerns of accountability in a democratic society. Many classics in the literature highlight the need to understand agency decisions at stages prior to the final vote by agency appointees, but few studies of the bureaucracy do so. To this point, scholars have treated the issue of shirking as one where laziness and inefficiency are the driving forces. However, it is more realistic to expect that shirking comes in the form of ideological resistance by administrators. I develop a theory that the independence afforded to the bureaucracy is functionally comparable to that of the judiciary, allowing for the insertion of individual attitudinal preferences by bureaucrats. Drawing from the attitudinal model of judicial research, I look at whether attitudes affect the decision making of administrative law judges at the National Labor Relations Board, the influence administrative law judge decisions have on reviewing bodies, and whether attitudinal decision making can be controlled by external political and legal actors. Results demonstrate that Democratic judges are more likely than Republican judges to rule for labor in unfair labor practice cases, administrative law judge decisions provide the basis for subsequent decisions of reviewing bodies, and that few political and legal controls exist over this set of bureaucrats. This research provides evidence that lower level bureaucrats make decisions based on their own political preferences and that these preferences have far ranging consequences for policy and law.

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