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Do Elections Always Motivate Incumbents? Learning vs. Re-Election Concerns

Eric Le Borgne and Ben Lockwood
Public Choice
Vol. 129, No. 1/2 (Oct., 2006), pp. 41-60
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25487578
Page Count: 20
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Do Elections Always Motivate Incumbents? Learning vs. Re-Election Concerns
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Abstract

This paper studies a principal-agent model of the relationship between office-holder and an electorate, where everyone is initially uninformed about the office-holder's ability. If office-holder effort and ability interact in the determination of performance in office, then an office-holder has an incentive to learn, i.e., raise effort so that performance becomes a more accurate signal of her ability. Elections reduce the learning effect, and the reduction in this effect may more than offset the positive "re-election concerns" effect of elections on effort, implying higher effort with appointment. When this occurs, appointment of officials may welfare-dominate elections.

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