Information and Legislative Organization

Keith Krehbiel
Presents an alternative informational theory of legislative politics to challenge the conventional view


In this controversial book, Keith Krehbiel investigates and casts doubt upon a view of Congress held by many academics, journalists, and members of the lay public: that Congress is organized primarily to facilitate logrolling or "gains from trade" between legislators. The author puts forward an alternative "informational" theory that, unlike previous formal theories, highlights institutional needs and individual incentives for acquiring policy expertise. Using games with incomplete information, Krehbiel derives a set of unique and testable predictions about the organization of legislatures—including the composition of committees and the procedures under which legislation is considered.

Krehbiel's creative illustrations and nonmathematical presentation of formal theories make this book accessible to a diverse set of readers. The political relevance and testability of games with incomplete information will be appreciated by game theorists and economists, while the book's findings make it essential reading for political scientists who study American politics, political institutions, or democratic legislatures.

Praise / Awards

  • "Krehbiel is making an important challenge to a large body of theoretical and empirical work on legislative organization that has accumulated over several decades."
    American Political Science Review
  • ". . . Krehbiel's analysis of special rules and post-floor procedures is among the best to date, superior in the quality of data and the sophistication of the analysis to the recent work of more strictly empirical scholars."
    American Political Science Review
  • ". . . adds an important new perspective to the theory of legislative institutions and provides the most comprehensive empirical assessment to date of alternative theoretical claims. Both theoretically and empirically, then, it offers excellent guidance for the next generation of scholarship."
    American Political Science Review
  • Winner: Legislative Studies Section of the American Political Science Association's 1992 Richard F. Fenno, Jr. Prize

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 328pp.
  • numerous tables, figures.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1992
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06460-1

Add to Cart
  • $29.95 U.S.

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  • legislation, legislative politics, political science, American politics, game theory, democracy, Congress, distributive theories, informational theories, signaling games