Guardians and Gridlocks: Bureaucracy, Bargaining, and Authoritarian Policymaking
How do authoritarian rulers make credible power-sharing agreements? What institutions commit authoritarian rulers to share government spoils with other elites? This dissertation investigates the role of bureaucracy in authoritarian politics. I argue that autocrats make their promises to share power more credible by delegating resource-allocating authority to a fragmented bureaucracy. The fragmentation of decision-making authorities increases rulers’ costs to sway policy decisions in their favor, thereby shielding certain policies from top-down manipulation. The fragmentation also induces bottom-up competitions for government spoils among policy recipients, most notably among territorial administrations. Those with greater bargaining power and the right tactics can navigate the fragmented system and therefore secure more favorable policy treatment from the central government. I use evidence from China’s high-speed railway development program to test this argument. Original data on government investment decisions on infrastructure and official behaviors is used to explore the role of fragmented bureaucracy in authoritarian policymaking.
- Political science