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Accounting for Ministers Scandal and Survival in British Government 1945-2007 by Samuel Berlinski, Torun Dewan, Keith Dowding

Accounting for Ministers Scandal and Survival in British Government 1945-2007

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Accounting for Ministers Scandal and Survival in British Government 1945-2007 by Samuel Berlinski, Torun Dewan, Keith Dowding

Accounting for Ministers uses the tools of modern political science to analyse the factors which determine the fortunes of Cabinet ministers. Utilising agency theory, it describes Cabinet government as a system of incentives for prime ministerial and parliamentary rule. The authors use a unique dataset of ministers from 1945 to 2007 to examine the structural and individual characteristics that lead to the selection and durability of ministers. Sensitive to historical context, it describes the unique features of different Prime Ministers and the sorts of issues and scandals that lead to the forced exit of ministers. The authors identify the structural factors that determine ministerial performance and tenure, seeing resignation calls as performance indicators. Probing the nature of individual and collective responsibility within Westminster forms of government, its rigorous analysis provides powerful new insights into the nature of Cabinet government.


'For those used to studies of parliamentary systems in which the government is treated [as] The Government - that is, as a unitary actor, the present volume by Berlinski, Dewan, and Dowding will come as welcome relief. In this superb piece of theoretical and empirical analysis, the authors 'unpack'
the government and provide us with a model of its internal workings. In the process we are given a theoretical account of who serves as government minister, their comings and goings, their management by the prime minister, and ultimately their performance. The analysis is clear and accessible

; the empirical work persuasive; and the conclusions illuminating. This is a fine piece of work.
Kenneth A. Shepsle, Harvard University

'Berlinski, Dewan and Dowding take the rich evidence of ministerial scandals and Prime Ministerial decision-making to provide a robust analysis of the accountability and effectiveness of British government. Using the tools of political science they build a powerful model of performance and responsibility which provides great insight into the nature and outcomes of British democratic politics.'
Alistair McMillan, University of Sheffield

About the Author

Samuel Berlinski is Lead Research Economist in the Research Department of the Inter-American Development Bank. Torun Dewan is Reader in Political Science in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Keith Dowding is Professor of Political Science in the School of Politics and International Relations, Research School of Social Sciences and Director of the Research College of Arts and Social Sciences at the Australian National University.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th March 2012


Samuel Berlinski, Torun Dewan, Keith Dowding

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Cambridge University Press


208 pages


Political structure & processes
Political economy



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