Theses Doctoral

Essays on Information Revelation in Political Organizations

Yu, Tinghua

Informational problems are prevalent in political organizations. To understand incentive structures, transparency and policy expertise in political organizations, we need to examine their informational problems. This collection of essays is a contribution to the theory and application of information revelation in political organizations.
In Chapter 1, I develop a theory of office incentives in a setting in which agents’ effort is crucial for learning policy information. Many organizations, such as government agencies and NGOs, learn about policy effectiveness through de- centralized experimentation. However, unobserved effort by an agent can affect the outcome of an experiment, thus limiting its informativeness. A principal can improve the informativeness of an experiment by motivating the agent, using of- fice as an incentive. The principal may keep the agent in office only when the outcome of an experiment is good, thereby creating high-powered office incen- tives for the agent. High-powered office incentives motivate the agent’s effort in implementing the experiment in order to stay in office. However, they also reduce the agent’s expected informational benefits from experimentation, which can reduce the effort expended by the agent in implementing the experiment. The degree to which the agent values achieving organizational goals affects such trade-offs. I show that the principal is more likely to use high-powered incentives when the agent places a high value on achieving organizational goals and when multiple agents implement the same experiment.
In Chapter 2, I analyze a model where an autocrat may choose transparency in disclosing information to members of ruling group, particular information per- taining to the effectiveness of valence-policy by her. The effectiveness of the au- tocrat’s policy directly reflects her competence. The members’ belief about auto- crat’s competence in valence-policy making affects their support. If the autocrat is transparent about policy effectiveness, particularly tell the truth of an ineffec- tive policy, a favorable message of policy effectiveness will be convincing. The members will support the autocrat upon receiving a favorable message thereby. However, transparency also means a higher frequency of unfavorable message which leads to the withdrawal of support by the members of ruling group. The model shows the effect of intra elite conflicts on transparency. When the rul- ing faction doesn’t depend much on the autocrat, the autocrat tends to be more transparent. Further, there is a non-monotonic relationship between the degree of ideological conflict among competing factions and transparency. As conflict increases, transparency increases up to a threshold. Beyond this threshold, in- creased conflict is associated with reduced transparency. In addition, the model has implications on quality of bureaucracies that gather and report information.
Finally, in Chapter 3, I study how political polarization at the mass level af- fects politicians’ policy making in common value issues. In the model, politicians representing two groups of voters with divergent ideologies compete for office. Voters have limited information about policy as well as politicians’ competence in policy making. After observing the incumbent’s policy choice, voters make voting decisions. I study two variations of election. First, there is a majority group and a minority group in the society. Second, society is composed of two competitive groups. In both variations, I show that in a society with a high level of polariza- tion, the incumbent politician is more likely to exercise her expertise regarding common value issues.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Huber, John
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 13, 2018