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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: May 2011

4 - Measuring Chief Executives' Statutory Performance


When does a government actually govern? Or, simply put, how can one gauge a chief executive's effectiveness? I argue for the use of the box score. This indicator is calculated as the percentage of executive initiatives approved by the legislature. It is analogous to a batting average (i.e., number of hits as a proportion of times at bat). As such, the box score summarizes a chief executive's record of wins and losses (Bond et al. 1996).

In this chapter, I compare and contrast the box score with several other commonly used measures in the literature. After addressing some common criticisms against the use of box scores, I explain why this indicator is the most appropriate measure to analyze chief executives' statutory achievements in the context of this work.


In addition to the box score, students of executive-legislative relations use several measures of legislative success and various units of analysis. In fact, passage, success, productivity, support, concurrence, dominance, control, and influence all appear in the scholarly literature (Edwards 1980, 1989; Shull 1983; Bond and Fleisher 1990; Peterson 1990) and sometimes are used interchangeably.

One commonly used indicator is the “supply” of legislation, or total legislative productivity. For instance, most of the literature focusing on the effect of divided government on lawmaking examines the number of laws enacted by the U.S. Congress (Coleman 1999; Howell et al. 2000; Krutz 2000).

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Ruling by Statute
  • Online ISBN: 9780511842276
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