STRUCTURE AND POLICY SHIFTS: THE U.S. HOUSE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, 1862-1942 (UNITED STATES)
KURSMAN, NANCY SUE
Doctor of Philosophy
Variations in institutional arrrangements and policy agendas are an integral part of the policy-making process. This study seeks to analyze the effect of agenda structure on policy in terms of the relationship between the United States House Committee on Agriculture and farm policy over an eighty year period. Aspects of agenda structure include House reforms affecting the ability of Agriculture to appropriate and the establishment of formal, commodity subcommittees, affecting committee policy-making. It is argued that the structural changes are one, but not the only important factor in changing public policy. Formal models and empirical literature in political science are used to outline several predictions as to the outcomes under different agenda structures. To test the claim that changes in agenda structure facilitate policy shifts, one committee is studied over a period of time in which there are changes in its ability to control the agenda and in farm policy. Analysis was conducted on changes in both structure and policy. The results indicate that structural change is indeed one component of policy shifts. The ability to appropriate enhanced members' incentives to increase agricultural appropriations, whereas when appropriations were recentralized farm members' strategy was to increase the number of committee meetings on farm problems. During the New Deal period the establishment of formal, commodity subcommittees helped to facilitate the formalization of the policy shifts begun in 1933. In general, the results are consistent with the expectations outlined in the dissertation. The results are in line with the empirical work which finds that structure influences policy outcomes, and the more formal literature which finds that there are theoretical reasons for expecting this to be so.