Strategic instruments: Legal structure and political games in administrative law

Emerson H. Tiller*, Pablo T. Spiller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


This article presents models of strategic behavior by agencies and courts where the ability to manipulate the instruments of decision making, rather than merely selecting policy choices, allows actors to insulate their policy choices from higher level review. The theory is based on the notion that decision instruments (for example, rulemaking and adjudication for agencies, statutory interpretation and reasoning process review for courts) pose differential costs and payoffs for both the initiating and reviewing actors, each of whom have resource constraints. Because the initiating actor has the choice among instruments to make a decision (and to which a higher level reviewing actor is tied), the initiating actor can manipulate decision costs in a strategic fashion (choosing high-cost instruments to discourage higher level review, in particular). This article adds new insight into how judges and agencies engage in strategic decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-377
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Law, Economics, and Organization
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Law


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