Public Policy and Administration

Sage Publications, Inc.
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Latest documents

  • Learning from laboratory mistakes: How policy entrepreneurs catalyze city ordinance repeals in the United States

    Public policies are not static; rather, they change with the context and as consequences become known. We ask how city councils learn about the negative consequences of laws by evaluating the policy diffusion and decision-theoretic learning hypotheses using a case study of criminal activity nuisance ordinance repeals in several cities within one county. These laws as originally written designated properties as “nuisances” if emergency services were called too frequently, including in cases of domestic violence. The seven case cities repealed their laws so survivors of domestic violence would not risk a fine or eviction because they called for help. We argue neither theory is sufficient to explain the repeal of these laws and instead suggest a new variant of policy learning, the entrepreneur catalyzed learning hypothesis, to highlight the importance of policy entrepreneurs in facilitating policy learning and the repeal of unsuccessful laws at the city level.

  • Multilevel regulatory coordination: The interplay between European Union, federal and regional regulatory agencies

    We know that European regulatory networks tend to broaden the gap between regulators and executives in the member states. But what is their impact on inter-agencies relationship at the national level? The scope of issues addressed by European regulatory networks may cover the competences of several independent regulatory agencies in the domestic arena. Who is competent to participate in the European regulatory network? What happens with the independent regulatory agency that cannot participate? This can trigger confusion, competence conflicts, but can also be an opportunity to develop coordination among the concerned independent regulatory agency. This situation is particularly delicate in federal states when the concerned independent regulatory agencies are located on different governmental levels. Against the background of interdependent regulatory competences across levels, this article examines the conditions for the rise of inter-independent regulatory agencies coordination regarding their participation in European regulatory networks. Theoretically, we engage with the literature on coordination between federal and subnational governmental actors for European Union affairs and extend its application to regulatory actors. Based on a longitudinal case study on energy regulation in Belgium, we bring three key findings. First, the federal regulator’s acceptance to coordinate is explained by the rising interdependencies between regulators across levels. Second, the regional regulator’s move from a contentious strategy to a more cooperative one is explained by learning. Third, bilateral coordination arrangements may pre-empt the emergence of multilateral ones.

  • What price to pay? The trade-off between independence and influence in European regulation

    This article asks whether the strengthened, institutionalised role that some European agencies play in delegated decision-making endangers their actual independence. In some particular sensitive policy domains, such as pharmaceuticals security, financial markets and energy, European agencies exist which are formal agenda-setters in delegated decision-making, meaning that the European Commission can either accept or reject their proposals but is hardly allowed to change them. These procedures were established to guarantee particularly expert-based decision-making. However, the article argues that under these conditions, the Commission will be eager to interfere with the agencies’ proposal preparation to ensure that the proposal is in line with its position, thereby weakening the de facto independence of agencies. Such procedures come, therefore, with unexpected effects in practice. However, the article demonstrates that these effects vary with organisational resources on the agencies’ and the Commission’ side and the expected constraining effects of the decisions taken.

  • National regulators, regulatory networks, and European agencies: Connecting the dots

    This introduction to our special issue discusses the challenges related to the cooperative and competitive interaction between national regulators, regulatory networks, and European agencies within increasingly complex EU regulatory regimes. In this context, a special attention is given to the dynamic nature of multilevel processes. After presenting an overview of the contributions to the special issue, we conclude by offering three insights on possible avenues for further research, referring to (a) the governance structure of regulatory networks, (b) the micro-foundations of regulatory networks, and (c) their role in implementation and enforcement.

  • Utility of the advocacy coalition framework in a regional budget crisis

    The advocacy coalition framework predicts that externally controlled events, such as jurisdictional shifts, can open venues for policy change within a policy subsystem. Advocacy coalitions may opt to look outside of their traditional decision-making venue for a more suitable venue. Yet, how and when coalitions use their political resources during this venue shift is unclear. We examine how coalitions leverage policy venues and resources when their traditional strategies are found unproductive. We empirically test how advocacy coalitions engage their political resources during an exogenous shock. Using semi-structured interviews with eight individual coalition leaders representing an estimated 1100 individual charities, this study distils whether and how coalition resources and venue shifts are used by subsystem actors. Three main strategies emerge, and we find that some resources are employed in a unique way during the policy implementation crisis, as opposed to how they are used during their original policy advocacy. Finally, we propose further refinement of the advocacy coalition framework to accommodate points of crisis on the complex road from policy advocacy to implementation. From this study, coalitions can learn how to leverage their resources and navigate to an effective decision-making venue to ensure that external crises do not lead to policy failure.

  • The logic of regulatory venue shopping: A firm’s perspective

    Drawing on an original and unique survey data set of 243 medium- and big-sized firms operating in five sectors (energy, telecommunications, railways, airlines and postal services) and across 29 European countries, we analyse what incentivizes firms to interact with and influence multiple regulators. In so doing, we map the regulatory opportunity structure and scrutinize firms’ venue shopping logics. The study shows that firms can clearly identify where the locus of political and regulatory competence lies and that they concentrate their activities at this level. In particular, the data show that the national level is still the most important target level for regulatory representation. Regulatory venue shopping, the study illustrates, occurs when issues are highly salient, highly technical and when high stakes are involved. Notably, we show that firms tend to address more regulators in sectors characterized by higher international competitiveness to mitigate uncertainty when operating in multiple markets and facing rivalry from international competitors.

  • Market regulation between economic and ecological values: Regulatory authorities and dilemmas of responsiveness

    The regulation of markets emerged as one of the core pillars of government policies during the 1990s. However, the ascendance of ecological values and issues, such as sustainability and security in the following decades challenge some of the basic tenets of the underlying neo-liberal ideas. We argue in this paper that market and competition regulators have come under pressures to uphold the market and economic values of the prevailing anti-trust policies while being responsive to societal pressures that cherish non-economic values. Competition authorities find themselves locked-in to economic theories of regulation and find little room for engaging with ecological issues. We illustrate this with the case of the Dutch competition authority's approach to managing the balance between economic and sustainability and animal welfare values.

  • Varieties of public–private policy coordination: How the political economy affects multi-actor implementation

    This study seeks to introduce the concept of Varieties of Capitalism to the study of multi-actor implementation arrangements. It illustrates the analytical value of this classification scheme by drawing from original empirical data and addresses two key research questions, namely how do public and private actors cooperate in delivering on public policy, and which factors determine the scope of their cooperation? To address these questions, the article examines governance arrangements adopted by individual European Union member states for implementing the Youth Guarantee. The Youth Guarantee was selected because all European Union member states must and have indeed already started to implement it, meaning it provides a broad empirical base for observing different types of public–private coordination. The findings demonstrate that a hierarchical structure in a country’s political economy and prior expenditure on active labour market policies result in different governance arrangements.

  • Have policy process scholars embraced causal mechanisms? A review of five popular frameworks

    Over 30 years, several key frameworks and theories of the policy process have emerged which have guided a burgeoning empirical literature. A more recent development has been a growing interest in the application of a ‘causal mechanism’ perspective to policy studies. This article reviews selected theories of the policy process (Multiple Streams Approach, Advocacy Coalition Framework, Punctuated Equilibrium Theory, Narrative Framework Theory, and Institutional Analysis and Development Framework) and reports on an exploratory meta-analysis and synthesis to gauge the take-up of causal-mechanistic approaches. The findings suggest that there has been limited application of causal mechanisms and calls for more theoretical and empirical work on that aspect. Given the overlapping frameworks exploring different aspects of the policy process, further research informed by causal-mechanism approaches points to a new generation of inquiry across these and other policy process theoretical frameworks.

  • Emotional labour: Exploring emotional policy discourses of pregnancy and childbirth in Ontario, Canada

    In 1991, Ontario became the first Canadian province to pass legislation establishing midwifery as a self-regulated healthcare profession and integrating it into the provincial healthcare insurance plan. Since its implementation, there has been a partial convergence of obstetric practice in the province, where, despite seemingly distinct professional philosophies of care, both midwives and physicians cohere around representations of pregnancy and birth as “normal” or “natural” life events rather than medical conditions requiring treatment. In this paper, I suggest that understanding this convergence and the effects produced by it requires an interrogation of the emotional policy discourses that shape (and are shaped by) the ways we experience the world around us. In doing so, I develop a framework for tracing the emotional policy discourses surrounding pregnancy and birth from the turn of the 20th century until the early 1990s, demonstrating that these representations reflect the merging of two emotional registers, joy and fear, where pregnancy and birth are represented as joyous, life changing events, but where joy is tempered by the fear of complications and potential tragedy. I thus show that contemporary emotional landscapes bind various “birth experts” and bracket “expertise” around particular forms of knowledge, shaping expert and maternal subjectivities along gendered, racialized, ableist, and class-based lines.

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