Voice and Choice by Delegation

Food for thought for the advocates of liquid democracy.

In many Western countries, options for citizens to influence public services are increased to improve the quality of services and democratize decision making. Possibilities to influence are often cast into Albert Hirschman’s taxonomy of exit (choice), voice, and loyalty. In this article we identify delegation as an important addition to this framework. Delegation gives individuals the chance to practice exit/ choice or voice without all the hard work that is usually involved in these options. Empirical research shows that not many people use their individual options of exit  and voice, which could lead to inequality between users and nonusers. We identify  delegation as a possible solution to this problem, using Dutch health care as a case
study to explore this option. Notwithstanding various advantages, we show that voice and choice by delegation also entail problems of inequality and representativeness.

For those who are willing to read more than quotes and blog posts, the full paper is here [PDF].