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Anticipatory and Reactive Forms of Blame Avoidance: Of Foxes and Lions

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Hinterleitner Markus, Sager Fritz,
Project Assessing Blame Avoidance Behavior
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal European Political Science Review
Volume (Issue) 9(4)
Page(s) 587 - 606
Title of proceedings European Political Science Review
DOI 10.1017/s1755773916000126

Open Access

Type of Open Access Repository (Green Open Access)


Blame avoidance behavior (BAB) encompasses all kinds of integrity-protecting activities by officeholders in the face of potentially blame-attracting events. Although considered essential for a realistic understanding of politics and policymaking, a general understanding of this multi-faceted behavioral phenomenon and its implications has been lacking to date. We argue that this is due to the lack of careful conceptualization of various forms of BAB. Crucially, the difference between anticipatory and reactive forms of BAB is largely neglected in the literature. This paper links anticipatory and reactive forms of BAB as two consecutive decision situations. It exposes dependence relationships between the situations that trigger BAB, the rationalities at work, the resources and strategies applied by blame-avoiding actors, and the various consequences thereof. The paper concludes that anticipatory and reactive BAB are distinct phenomena that require specific research approaches to assess their relevance for the workings of polities.