Public Choice

, Volume 154, Issue 1–2, pp 21–37 | Cite as

Two-tiered political entrepreneurship and the congressional committee system

  • Adam Martin
  • Diana Thomas


Theories of political entrepreneurship usually focus on the construction of coalitions necessary to change policy. We argue that political entrepreneurs who are unable to secure favored policies may redirect their efforts to a “higher tier,” attempting to change the rules of the game to enable the exploitation of future political profit opportunities. We present a taxonomy of three levels of political rules—pre-constitutional, constitutional, and post-constitutional—and identify the salient characteristics of institutional entrepreneurship that targets rules at each level. The development of the congressional committee system is explored as a case study in entrepreneurship over post-constitutional rules.


Entrepreneurship Congressional committee system Collective action Institutions 

JEL Classification

L26 D71 D72 D02 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ackerman, B. (1999). Revolution on a human scale. The Yale Law Journal, 108(8), 2279–2349. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baumol, W. J. (1996). Entrepreneurship: productive, unproductive, and destructive. Journal of Business Venturing, 11(1), 3–22. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Benson, B. L. (2002). Regulatory disequilibrium and inefficiency: the case of interstate trucking. The Review of Austrian Economics, 15(2/3), 229–255. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boettke, P. J. (1996). Why culture matters: economics, politics, and the imprint of history. Nuova Economia e Storia, 3(Sept. 1996), 189–214. Google Scholar
  5. Boettke, P., Coyne, C. J., Leeson, P. T., et al. (2008). Institutional stickiness and the new development economics. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 67(2), 331–358. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brennan, G., & Lomasky, L. (1993). Democracy and decision. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  7. Buchanan, J. M. (1999). The logical foundations of constitutional liberty. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Google Scholar
  8. Buchanan, J. M., & Tullock, G. (1962). The calculus of consent. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Google Scholar
  9. Cooper, J. (1970). The origins of the standing committees and the development of the modern House. Houston: William Marsh Rice University. Google Scholar
  10. Coyne, C. J., & Leeson, P. T. (2009). Media as a mechanism of institutional change and reinforcement. Kyklos, 62(1), 1–14. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Frohlich, N., & Oppenheimer, J. A. (1978). Modern political economy. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall. Google Scholar
  12. Galloway, G. B. (1959). Development of the committee system in the House of Representatives. The American Historical Review, 65(1), 17–30. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hechler, K. (1940). Insurgency: personalities and politics of the Taft era. New York: Columbia University Press. Google Scholar
  14. Holcombe, R. G. (1989). A Note on seniority and political competition. Public Choice, 61(3), 285–288. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Holcombe, R. G. (2002). Political entrepreneurship and the democratic allocation of economic resources. The Review of Austrian Economics, 15(2/3), 143–159. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jones, C. O. (1987). Joseph G. Cannon and Howard W. Smith: an essay on the limits of leadership in the House of Representatives. In Mathew D. McCubbins & Terry O. Sullivan (Eds.), Congress: structure and policy (pp. 260–285). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  17. Holcombe, R. G., & Parker, G. R. (1991). Committees in legislatures: a property rights perspective. Public Choice, 70(1), 11–20. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kingdon, J. W. (1984). Agendas, alternatives, and public policies. Boston: Little, Brown. Google Scholar
  19. Leeson, P. T., & Boettke, P. J. (2009). Two-tiered entrepreneurship and economic development. International Review of Law and Economics, 29(3), 252–259. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Majone, G. (1988). Policy analysis and public deliberation. In Robert B. Reich (Ed.), The power of public ideas (pp. 157–178). Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Google Scholar
  21. Martin, A. (2010). Emergent politics and the power of ideas. Studies in Emergent Order, 3, 212–245. Google Scholar
  22. McChesney, F. S. (1987). Rent extraction and rent creation in the economic theory of regulation. Journal of Legal Studies, 16(1), 101–118. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McChesney, F. S. (1997). Money for nothing: politicians, rent extraction, and political extortion. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Google Scholar
  24. Mintrom, M. (1997). Policy entrepreneurs and the diffusion of innovation. American Journal of Political Science, 41(3), 738–770. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mueller, D. C. (2003). Public choice III. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Norris, G. (1945). Fighting liberal. New York: Macmillan. Google Scholar
  27. Ostrom, E. (1965). Public entrepreneurship: a study in ground water basin management. Ph.D. Dissertation, Los Angeles: University of California. Google Scholar
  28. Ostrom, E. (2005). Understanding institutional diversity. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Google Scholar
  29. Ostrom, V. (1997). The meaning of democracy and the vulnerability of democracies: a response to Tocqueville’s challenge. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Google Scholar
  30. Poslby, N. W. (1984). Political innovation in America: the politics of policy initiation. New Haven: Yale University Press. Google Scholar
  31. Riker, W. (1964). Federalism: origin, operation, maintenance. Boston: Little, Brown. Google Scholar
  32. Roberts, N. C., & King, P. J. (1991). Policy entrepreneurs: their activity structure and function in the policy process. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 1(2), 147–175. Google Scholar
  33. Schofield, N. (2006). Architects of political change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Shepsle, K. A., & Weingast, B. R. (1981). Structure-induced equilibrium and legislative choice. Public Choice, 37(3), 503–519. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Shepsle, K. A., & Weingast, B. R. (1987). The institutional foundations of committee power. The American Political Science Review, 81(1), 85–104. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Simmons, Randy T., Yonk, Ryan M., & Thomas, Diana W. (2011). Bootleggers, Baptists, and political entrepreneurs: key players in the rational game and morality play of regulatory politics. The Independent Review, 15(3), 367–381. Google Scholar
  37. Vanberg, V. J., & Buchanan, J. M. (1996). Constitutional choice, rational ignorance, and the limits of reason. In K. E. Soltan & S. L. Elkin (Eds.), The constitution of good societies. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. Google Scholar
  38. Van Deusen, Glyndon G. (1937). The life of Henry Clay. Boston: Little, Brown Google Scholar
  39. Wagner, R. E. (2007). Fiscal sociology and the theory of public finance. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Google Scholar
  40. Watson, H.L. (1998). Andrew Jackson vs. Henry Clay. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. Google Scholar
  41. Weingast, B. R., & Marshall, W. J. (1988). The industrial organization of congress: or, why legislatures, like firms, are not organized as markets. The Journal of Political Economy, 96(1), 132–163. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Williamson, O. (2000). The new institutional economics: taking stock, looking ahead. Journal of Economic Literature, 38(3), 595–613. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Yandle, B. (1983). Bootleggers and Baptists: the education of a regulatory economist. Regulation, 7(3), 12–16. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Development Research Institute, Economic DepartmentNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Economics and FinanceUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

Personalised recommendations