Political Institutions, Public Management, and Policy Choice

Thomas H. Hammond, Jack H. Knott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the past three decades, the literature on political institutions and policy choice has diverged so much from the literature on public management that they now have little in common. Contemporary theories of political institutions and policy choice increasingly rest on foundations laid by economists and political scientists working with rational choice assumptions. One purpose of these theories is to abstract away from the complex situational details, personalities, and leadership issues with which discussions of public management have long been concerned. Our goal in this article is to suggest some ways to join these two bodies of literature together again. In particular, we explore the implications that one formal theory of political institutions and policy choice-see Hammond and Knott (1996) - may have for understanding the constraints and opportunities faced by public managers. We focus on two problems in public management. First: When the political environment places immovable constraints on public managers, what does this theory of political institutions and policy choice tell us about the conditions under which they can achieve their policy goals? Second: When the constraints of the political environment can be loosened, what can this theory tell us about the strategies, involving persuasion and issue framing, that public managers might use to achieve their policy goals?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-85
Number of pages53
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


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