Political Research Exchange

Building Organizational Reputation in Low Accountability Settings: Comparing two Regulatory Agencies in Mexico

Public Administration
Public Policy
Mauricio Dussauge-Laguna
Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas CIDE
Mauricio Dussauge-Laguna
Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas CIDE
Martin Lodge
The London School of Economics & Political Science

Accountability fora are said to provide government agencies with a venue to develop their reputation for competence. However, how do agencies develop their reputation in front of key audiences when they are bereft of a well-developed set of accountability fora? This paper explores how two agencies seek to enhance their reputation in such a low accountability setting. It does so by focusing on two agencies in Mexico, the competition authority (established in 1992) and the environmental health regulatory (established in 2014). These two agencies not only differ in terms of their age, but also their institutional status (the former is formally autonomous, the latter part of the executive). Building on recent theoretical and empirical work on reputation (e.g. Carpenter, Maor, Gilad, Busuioc) and original fieldwork, this paper considers how and why the two agencies pursued particular strategies for enhancing their reputation. In particular, it will consider how these reputation building and management efforts relate (or not) to political accountability and administrative accountability mechanisms. Findings from this comparison are relevant to inform broader debates about the relationship between reputation and accountability, particularly in countries that are at an early stage of democratic consolidation.
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"Aristocracies … may preserve themselves longest, but only democracies, which refresh their ruling class, can expand" - Hugh Trevor-Roper

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