Shirking and shifting policies : uncooperative political appointees in Israeli local government
How politicians attempt to control bureaucracies has been broadly discussed over the years in public administration and public choice studies. Seeking to maximize their political efficiency (their re-election), politicians rely on various monitoring mechanisms to overcome principal-agent problems. However, since monitoring methods are often limited and expensive, politicians turn their attention from supervision, to the attributes of supervisees. In an effort to increase compliance and conserve resources, politicians often replace career agents with political appointees. They view appointed agents as political allies who share their policy preferences and are therefore motivated to implement their policies. Most scholars assert that political-ideological agreement between politicians and appointees increases agency responsiveness. The present thesis contends that, under certain conditions, it can decrease bureaucratic cooperation. While political agreement may reduce shifting - appointees pursuing different policies than those set by their principals - it does not address the problem of shirking - the reluctance of agents to invest the necessary resources to effect change. No matter how closely appointees' views match those of their principals, political agents have strong incentives to shirk. On the other hand, policy agreement at the appointment stage encourages politicians to relax monitoring thereafter, as they assume that appointees are cooperating. Under these more relaxed conditions, appointees may choose to conserve their own resources and shirk. In order to explore political appointments, an empirical study of Israeli cities was conducted, for the political term of 1993-1998, During these years, local politicians were adopting New Public Management schemes (such as a contracting- out reform). In the process, mayors politically appointed to key executive roles associates whom they believed would forward the implementation of the reform. However, empirical exploration of Tel-Aviv, Holon and Beer-Sheva, largely reveal a failure to create responsive agencies prepared to contract-out services when relying on political appointees.