Panel Paper: Framing a Typology for Presidential Management: Executive Orders and Policy Control

Saturday, November 4, 2017
Addams (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Carley A Weted, American University

Recent changes in the political climate of the United States have brought an increased attention to the unilateral presidency. As more of the public begins to investigate utilizations of presidential power and delegation, the public management field becomes more noticeably lacking of a typology of management styles employed by presidents serving the country and its people. Presidential management is often overlooked in the field of public management, but remains one of the most far-reaching exploits of power and management in the world. Although scholars have studied different aspects of presidential use of power through various lenses (i.e. personality type, foreign affairs tendencies, approval ratings) thoroughly, as of yet there is no typology defining management styles of presidents through their use of executive orders.

Executive orders are one of the more curious abilities of a United States president, as they allow for the possibility of an unprecedented (and unwritten) grip on power within the country, free of many traditional checks on power in the federal government. Thus, the orders are significant and should be used to study and classify past, present, and future presidents and successors. The paper uses executive orders as a key variable because of the direct link between the orders and policy – as presidents have the power to essentially interject their own politics into the policy process without discussion required at other levels of the federal government.

This paper synthesizes literature investigating presidential management, and considers the implications of the results. It then investigates the impact of presidential executive orders on approval rating. This empirical analysis follows research from the past, using a methodology of coding for “significant” executive orders with impact on policy, and investigating their impact exclusively. This question is particularly important when looking at the Strategic Model of presidencies, predicting use of executive orders when the legislation is unlikely to implement presidentially preferred policy. This could be viewed by some as especially alarming given the current state of the political arena in the U.S.

Ultimately, the paper proposes a typology of presidents based on their most controversial ability – to use executive orders for significant action. By incorporating variations in other characteristics proposed in the literature, the typology offers significant insight into the way presidents manage, and offer valuable insight for future research into why events have unfolded the way they did – and predictions for the future of administrations. The paper fills an important gap in the current literature by offering a new method to classifying presidents, and defining their management style for comparison– as other offices are subjected to frequently.

For each of the four “types” proposed, a president is offered as a case study, to link with other characteristics beyond executive orders signed, and develop more fully a comprehensive typology of presidential management. This lends itself to being used heavily in future research, as the most powerful figure in perhaps the world falls under increasing scrutiny in an age of increasing data and accessibility to such information.