Reflection in the shadow of blame: When do politicians appoint commissions of inquiry?

Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Commissions of inquiry play an important role in the aftermath of crisis, by serving as instruments of accountability and policy learning. Yet crises also involve a high-stake game of political survival, in which accountability and learning pose a serious threat to incumbent politicians. The political decision of whether to appoint a commission of inquiry after a crisis thus provides a unique prism for studying the intense conflict between politics, accountability and policy learning. Using data from the United Kingdom, this study develops and tests a choice model for this political decision. The results show that the political decision to appoint inquiries into public crises is strongly influenced by short-term blame avoidance considerations, media salience and government popularity.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)613-634
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010


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