Politics of Implementation

  • Gunnar FermannEmail author


National reservations on the use of force may solve problems related to political principals’ need to control that implementation adhere to the political interests and intentions motivating the coalition participation. The literature on civil-military relations and principal-agent theory provide insights to why and how political principals’ need to control military agents, and whether and to what extent the need for political control favor the application of caveats. The main challenge facing the political principal is how to balance concerns for implementation effectiveness with implementation efficiency. The optimal trade-off in this dilemma depends on several factors and mechanisms discussed. The main take-home message is nevertheless that caveats are an instrument capable of facilitating the fine-tuning of the trade-off between contradicting concerns also in the politics of implementation. Several hypotheses are deduced to inspire empirical research. A final observation is that in the realm of implementation, caveats are relevant mainly in terms of how far and on what terms the government is willing to delegate political authority to make decisions on the use of force. Less relevant is the regulatory operationalization of national reservations on the use of force as deviations from the coalition RoE.


Principal-agent theory Civil-military relations Political control of military implementation Mission creep The agency problem Adverse selection problem Moral hazard problem Dual information problem Risk perception Crisis management Prospects theory Information gap Police-patrol oversight Fire-alarm oversight Positive command Command by negation 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Norwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway

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