Introduction. Use and Limitations of the Principal-Agent model in Studying the European Union

Tom Delreux, J. Adriaensen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


Given the omnipresence of delegation and control in the EU, the principal–agent model has become a popular analytical framework to study the design and effects of delegation and control. Yet, with the ascendance of governance as a mode of decision-making, the contemporary relevance of the principal–agent model became contested. We argue that the model still retains its relevance to study contemporary EU politics, but it requires researchers to follow a two-step approach. First, the hierarchical, dyadic relationship under study has to be clearly defined amidst a complex web of relations. Second, the conditions that have led to the observed pattern of delegation and/or the consequences of this pattern on the distribution of power between the principals and the agent can be inquired.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Principal-Agent model and the European Union
EditorsTom Delreux, Johan Adriaensen
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)9783319551371
ISBN (Print)9783319551364
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2017

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