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gailmard [at] stanford [dot] edu


Regulation, Evaluation, and Governance Lab

Stanford Law School

559 Nathan Abbott Way

Stanford, CA 94305

Lindsey A. Gailmard

I am a postdoctoral scholar at the Regulation, Evaluation, and Governance Lab (RegLab) at Stanford University.


I study political management of the bureaucracy.  My dissertation explores political appointees’ dual roles as agents of the president and managers of the bureaucracy. This view of appointee-careerist relations complicates standard notions of presidential control and bureaucratic power, by recognizing that appointees are reliant on presidential support to maintain their position within an administration. I argue that appointees may undermine presidential control of the bureaucracy to cultivate a good reputation with the president—either by failing to involve expert careerists in policymaking or by adopting policies that reflect careerist views.

Prior to joining RegLab, I completed a Ph.D. in Social Science at California Institute of Technology, and received a B.A. in Economics and M.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley and an M.P.P. from the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at University of Chicago. 

Download my CV here


Regulation, Evaluation, and Governance Lab

Stanford Law School

559 Nathan Abbott Way

Stanford, CA 94305

Working Papers

Reputation and Capture R&R at Journal of Politics


​​Presidents rely on their political appointees to manage the bureaucracy on their behalf. Appointees often know more about their organizations than the president and, therefore, may be better positioned to generate bureaucratic support for the president’s agenda. Yet, bureaucratic cooperation may be easier for appointees to sustain the more policy reflects the views of careerists tasked with implementation. I consider a model in which an appointee dictates a policy that a bureaucrat exerts effort to implement. The president is uncertain of both her appointee’s management skill and the difficulty of the management problem her appointee faces. Instead, the president must infer the appointee’s skill by observing his policy choice and whether implementation was successful. In equilibrium, both talented and weak appointees may give additional policy concessions to bureaucrats to ensure bureaucratic cooperation and improve their reputation with the president. This incentive exists even when the appointee shares the president’s policy preferences. The results highlight fundamental strategic limitations of administrative tools to preserve presidential control over the bureaucracy.

The Persistence and Fragility of Bureaucratic Capacity

with Sean Gailmard

Political manipulation of bureaucratic agencies can undermine their performance. Yet, the dynamic effects of political management on bureaucratic capacity are not well understood. To address this question we develop a formal model that represents bureaucratic output as a team production process, and considers self-selection into bureaucracy by overlapping generations of agents. The model shows that transitory periods of poor management can have a persistent effect on selection into government and, as a result, bureaucratic performance. Further, high capacity bureaucracies are more vulnerable to persistent undermining through bad management—demonstrating the fragility of bureaucratic capacity—whereas medium capacity bureaucracies are insulated from management shocks—demonstrating the persistence of capacity in spite of interference.

In Progress


An Experimental Study of Delegation

with Marina Agranov and Alexander Hirsch 


The allocation of formal decision-making authority in organizations has a powerful effect on political and economic outcomes.  We examine how individuals delegate decision-making authority to a better informed agent in an experimental setting, testing the key theoretical predictions of the canonical Holmström (1984) delegation model in the lab. While this model has been widely applied to study decision-making within firms and bureaucratic organizations, previous experimental investigations provide only limited insight into its applicability as a model of individual behavior. We develop an experimental interface that more closely approximates the information and choice environment in the model. This innovation allows a more faithful implementation of the model in the decision environment facing the subjects and, therefore, a more complete test of the model.



Gailmard, Lindsey. 2024. “The Politics of Presidential Removals.” Forthcoming, Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization.

Guha, Neel and Lawrence, Christie and Gailmard, Lindsey A. and Rodolfa, Kit and Surani, Faiz and Bommasani, Rishi and Raji, Inioluwa and Cuéllar, Mariano-Florentino and Honigsberg, Colleen and Liang, Percy and Ho, Daniel E, “AI Regulation Has Its Own Alignment Problem: The Technical and Institutional Feasibility of Disclosure, Registration, Licensing, and Auditing” (November 15, 2023). George Washington Law Review, Forthcoming. [Policy Brief]


Gailmard, Lindsey. 2022. "Electoral Accountability and Political Competence." Journal of Theoretical Politics 34 (2): 236-261.

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