Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Information, Disclosure, and Accountability
by Guraieb Duenas, Marlene, Ph.D., New York University, 2017, 173; 10618922
Abstract (Summary)

Democratic regimes have developed numerous institutions to enhance accountability through procedures that formally and informally probe public officials’ actions. The ongoing expansion of public evidence available to citizens has strengthened their ability to judge the performance of public officials. However, this increase in “investigative power” cannot be analyzed without regard for the structural cost of searching, sorting, and putting information to work to adjudicate open inquiries. Political accountability is tested in increasingly more sophisticated strategic settings where the principal's success in scrutinizing the agents depends both on the evidence made available and on the effort expended on investigation.

This work analyzes some of the main mechanisms that underlie these institutions. In chapter 2, I develop a model of endogenous information acquisition where politicians can choose how much evidence to disclose after taking a suspicious action. The model focuses on the effects of the open-ended nature of political investigations – they may uncover misdeeds related or unrelated to the event that triggered them – and sheds light on the previously unexplained nature of cover-up in political settings, including the presence of incentives for good incumbents to withhold as much information as possible from the investigative bodies. Chapter 3 studies the behavioral plausibility of these findings in a laboratory setting.

Chapter 4 is focused more on informal probing institutions, such as the continuous scrutiny of politicians through and by the media. The model explicitly differentiates between the quality of information (linked to the likelihood of producing dispositive results) and the cost associated with processing this information (linked to the resources needed to put it to use). One of the main results of this analysis is that citizens of democracies with lower cost of information may optimally choose to be less informed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Landa, Dimitri A.
Commitee: Dawes, Christopher, Egan, Patrick, Gordon, Sanford, Hafer, Catherine
School: New York University
Department: Politics
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 79/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Political science
Keywords: Accountability
Publication Number: 10618922
ISBN: 9780355407686
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