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Democracy, Bureaucracy, Public Choice


This course introduces the students to the economic theory of collective decision making (also known as ‘public choice’ or the positive theory of political decision making). Important insights based on this approach include Downs’ theory on party competition, Niskanen’s insights on the behavior of bureaucrats, and Olson’s work on collective action problems. In this course, we further explore the applications of this approach to various problems and dilemma’s in political science and public administration. In addition, we also discuss game-theory and the spatial theory of voting as analytical tools often used to make public choice arguments.

The course builds on the textbook of K.A Shepsle and M.S. Bonchek (1997) Analyzing politics: rationality, behavior, and institutions. New York: Norton, which has been used in the BA in Public Administration, so students are advised to get familiar with this book in advance.


Dr. D. Toshkov


The main goals of the course are: – to introduce the public choice literature – to strengthen the skills of students to analyze collective decision making problems using game theory and spatial models – to help the students write research papers analyzing real-world collective decision making problems

Teaching format

Lectures, discussions of academic articles and assignments, and exercises.

Study material

Articles (available on Blackboard or through the University Library services).


Writing a research paper

Schedule Wednesday 8/2 t/m 21/3 Time: 11-14 hrs except for 7/3 and 14/3 from 11-13 hrs. Room; Buitenhof in building Stichthage,The hague