Neustadt’s Theory of Presidential Power

Neustadt’s theory of presidential power refers to a supposition about the foundations of executive authority in the United States as articulated by presidential scholar Richard Neustadt in his book Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents. The theory suggests that the core of presidential power is not found in inherent constitutional or statutory authority, but rather in the president’s adeptness at persuading other relevant government actors to adopt his or her policies. Neustadt first proposed this theory in 1960 and it has played a central role in motivating presidential scholarship ever since, having been subjected to numerous challenges, adaptations, and caveats. The theory has received increased attention since the early 2000s as scholars work toward developing an understanding of how presidents accomplish their goals using ...

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