Sean Gailmard: Research

Curriculum Vitae Google Scholar profile

Research interests: Political economy of American political development; accountability in American institutions; bureaucratic politics; US presidency and executive branch structure; legislative politics; formal political theory


  1. Learning While Governing: Expertise and Accountability in the Executive Branch, with John Patty, University of Chicago Press, 2012 (Chicago Studies in American Politics series). This book presents a framework for analyzing bureaucratic accountability problems when the expertise bureaucracies possess is (endogenously) developed rather than (exogenously) given. Almost all prior literature on bureaucratic accountability assumes bureaucrats are experts at some facet of policy making or administration; we consider the political foundations of that expertise in the first place. In particular, we explore how the success of bureaucratic organizations depends on incentives to acquire and share information within bureaucracies---incentives which are built into institutional structure. Our fundamental point is that political principals can actually benefit from institutions that appear to insulate bureaucratic agents from their control. The book combines formal modeling on these issues and analysis of cases from the historical development of the executive branch in the U.S.
    • Winner, 2013 William H. Riker Prize for Best Book in Political Economy (Political Economy section, American Political Science Association)
    • Winner, 2017 Herbert A. Simon Prize for Best Book in Public Administration published 5-10 years prior (Public Administration section, American Political Science Association)

  2. Statistical Modeling and Inference for Social Science Cambridge University Press, 2014 (Analytical Methods in Social Research series). This book presents elements of probability theory, statistical modeling, and statistical inference from the standpoint of applications in social science. It emphasizes statistics and statistical models as tools to express and identify relationships of theoretical interest in social science. The exposition is self-contained, emphasizes both technical foundations and intuition, and is suitable for 1st year Ph.D. students with little prior exposure to theory or practice of statistical modeling.

Articles and Papers

  1. Expertise, Subversion, and Bureaucratic Discretion, Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 2002

  2. An Experimental Comparison of Collective Choice Procedures for Excludable Public Goods, with Thomas R. Palfrey, Journal of Public Economics 2005

  3. Whose Ear to Bend? Information Sources and Venue Choice in Policy-Making, with Fred Boehmke and John Patty, Quarterly Journal of Political Science 2006

  4. Self-Interest, Inequality, and Entitlement in Majoritarian Decision-Making, with Daniel Diermeier, Quarterly Journal of Political Science 2006

  5. Negative Agenda Control in the Senate and House of Representatives: Fingerprints of Majority Party Power, with Jeff Jenkins, Journal of Politics 2007

  6. Slackers and Zealots: Civil Service, Policy Discretion, and Bureaucratic Expertise, with John Patty, American Journal of Political Science 2007

  7. Minority Party Power in the Senate and House of Representatives, with Jeff Jenkins, in Why Not Parties? Party Effects in the U.S. Senate, University of Chicago Press 2008

  8. Multiple Principals and Oversight of Bureaucratic Policy-Making, Journal of Theoretical Politics 2009

  9. Discretion Rather Than Rules: Choice of Instruments to Control Bureaucratic Policy-Making, Political Analysis 2009

  10. Arrow's Theorem on Single Peaked Preference Domains, with John Patty and Maggie Penn, in The Political Economy of Democracy 2009

  11. Agency Problems, Electoral Institutions, and the 17th Amendment, with Jeff Jenkins, American Journal of Political Science 2009

  12. Moral Bias in Large Elections: Theory and Experimental Evidence, with Tim Feddersen and Alvaro Sandroni, American Political Science Review 2009

  13. Politics, Principal-Agent Problems, and Public Service Motivation, International Public Management Journal 2010

  14. Manipulation and Single Peakedness: A General result, with Maggie Penn and John Patty, American Journal of Political Science 2011

  15. Intercameral Bargaining and Intracameral Organization in Legislatures, with Tom Hammond, Journal of Politics 2011

  16. Coalition Structure and Legislative Innovation in American National Government, with Jeff Jenkins, in Living Legislation: Political Development and Contemporary American Politics, University of Chicago Press 2012

  17. Formal Models of Bureaucratic Politics, with John Patty, Annual Review of Political Science 2012

  18. Business as Usual: Interest Group Access and Representation across Policy-Making Venues, with Fred Boehmke and John Patty, Journal of Public Policy 2013

  19. Stovepiping, with John Patty, Journal of Theoretical Politics 2013

  20. Accountability and Principal Agent Models, Oxford Handbook of Public Accountability 2014

  21. McNollgast: Review and Analysis, Oxford Handbook of Classics in Public Policy 2015

  22. Participation, Process, and Policy: The Informational Value of Politicized Judicial Review, with John Patty, Journal of Public Policy 2016

  23. Building a New Imperial State: The Strategic Foundations of Separation of Powers in America, American Political Science Review 2017

  24. Distributive Politics and Congressional Voting: Public Lands Reform in the Jacksonian Era, with Jeff Jenkins, Public Choice 2018

  25. Giving Advice vs. Making Decisions: Transparency, Information, and Delegation and online appendix, with John Patty, Political Science Research and Methods 2018 (forthcoming)

  26. Preventing Prevention, with John Patty, R&R at American Journal of Political Science

  27. Imperial Politics, English Law, and the Strategic Foundations of Constitutional Review in America, under review

  28. Laws of War: The Growth of Legislative Power in America, in progress

  29. Pick Your Poison: English Politics and the Origins Legislative Power in America, in progress

  30. Bureaucratic Agency Problems and Legislative Oversight, with Janna Rezaee and Abby Wood, in progress

Home | Teaching