Title page for ETD etd-08122008-124754

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Reisinger, Tyler Lang
Author's Email Address tlreisin@vt.edu
URN etd-08122008-124754
Title Beyond Beyle: Assessing the Measurement of Institutional and Informal Gubernatorial Powers
Degree Master of Arts
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Walcott, Charles E. Committee Chair
Brians, Craig Leonard Committee Member
Hult, Karen M. Committee Member
  • Beyle index
  • U.S. governors
  • U.S. state government
  • executive power
  • institutional power
Date of Defense 2008-08-08
Availability unrestricted
The subject of studying the institutional powers of state governors has largely been expressed on a macro level. Scholars have focused on obtaining a measurement of overall gubernatorial powers, often overlooking the quality of the individual measurements that make up their cumulative index. The most recognized method for measuring the formal and informal powers of state governors was created by Joseph A. Schlesinger in 1960, with Thad Beyle carrying on the work and providing periodical updates to the index. The scales used in these studies fall somewhat short of measuring the reality of gubernatorial powers in individual states, as existing scales of individual powers in appointment, tenure, veto, budget, branch official selection and party control fail to recognize important differences among the states.

Measuring gubernatorial powers can be important for scholars and citizens alike. Further knowledge of the governor’s role and powers in the political process can give voters and researchers a better sense of what a governor may be able to accomplish, and serve as a possible predictor of policy success. This study reviews and reworks the Beyle scales in an effort to identify power differences between states in terms of their individual powers. A closer look at the categories used in cumulative indices reveals that many states are scored identically despite awarding significantly different powers to their state executives. By identifying constitutional and statutory differences among states, revised scales and scores are suggested to improve the validity of measuring the individual powers. A time period comparison for the years 1980-2005 shows that the revised scales find less change in certain powers than the Beyle scales. Finally, the results of the project are used to partially fulfill an existing framework for predicting and evaluating gubernatorial policy success in the states, allowing researchers a better relative context from which to predict and assess gubernatorial actions.

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