Analyzing open government policy adoption through the multiple streams framework: The roles of policy entrepreneurs in the case of Madrid

AuthorEdgar A Ruvalcaba-Gomez,J Ignacio Criado,J Ramon Gil-Garcia
Published date01 April 2023
Date01 April 2023
Subject MatterArticles
Analyzing open
government policy
adoption through the
multiple streams
framework: The roles of
policy entrepreneurs in
the case of Madrid
Edgar A Ruvalcaba-Gomez
Department of Public Policy, Universidad de Guadalajara
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
J Ignacio Criado
Department of Political Science and International Relations,
Universidad Aut
onoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
J Ramon Gil-Garcia
University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany,
NY, USA and Universidad de las Am
ericas Puebla, Cholula,
Puebla, Mexico
Open government is expected to promote important changes related to transparency,
participation, and collaboration in the public sector. This article analyzes the open
government policy-making process in Madrid. In order to explain the adoption process
of open government as a public policy, this study uses the “multiple streams frame-
work,” originally developed by Kingdon and recently elaborated on by Zahariadis and
Herweg et al. Our empirical data, based on semi-structured interviews and qualitative
and quantitative analysis provide evidence about the adoption of open government
Corresponding author:
J Ignacio Criado, Universidad Aut
onoma de Madrid Building of Law, Politics and Economics, 1st floor,office 2
C/Marie Curie, 1, Ciudad Universitaria de Cantoblanco, Madrid 28049, Spain.
Public Policy and Administration
!The Author(s) 2020
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0952076720936349
2023, Vol. 38(2) 233–264
234 Public Policy and Administration 38(2)
policy in the city of Madrid and help to illustrate some of the multiple roles that policy
entrepreneurs play in the policy adoption process. Overall, this article offers insights on
how and why open government is adopted into the public agenda of local governments.
Also, this article highlights the importance of analyzing the roles of “policy
entrepreneurs” and the duality of transparency and citizen participation in open gov-
ernment policies.
Agenda-setting, City Council, collaboration, local government, Madrid, open govern-
ment, participation, public administration, public management, public policy, Spain,
The notion of open government (OG) has been systematically incorporated in the
discourse of governments and policy makers around the globe. Although the con-
cept is still under construction, many authors have provided valuable evidence and
narratives that approach OG from different perspectives, which includes different
approaches and lenses that have been used to analyze OG as well as the different
conceptualizations and pillars that have been used to def‌ine the phenomenon
(Abu-Shanab, 2015; Attard et al., 2015; Criado et al., 2013; Ganapati and
Reddick, 2012; Gasc
o, 2014; Grimmelikhuijsen, 2012; Grønbech-Jensen, 1998;
Lathrop and Ruma, 2010; Meijer et al., 2012; Scholl et al., 2012; Wijnhoven
et al., 2015). Specif‌ically, this study analyses OG as a public policy at the local
level, based on the case of the City of Madrid, to understand the process of its
adoption into the public agenda through the multiple streams framework (MSF).
This study not only contributes to a better understanding of OG policy and its
adoption process but also to highlight its political dimensions and the multiple
roles of policy entrepreneurs.
OG policy has spawned interest among scholars, politicians, public off‌icials,
and civil society organizations. This model of public management has been
approached from various disciplines and f‌ields, which represent a diversity of
scholarly f‌ields converging in the study of the OG (Kornberger et al., 2017;
Ruvalcaba-Gomez, 2019), which is ref‌lected in the diverse political discourses
and governmental structures that deal with this topic as well as in the wide dis-
semination of knowledge about OG through articles, books, and conferences. In
other words, not all those who research, debate, develop, and implement OG do so
in the same way.
During the last decade, more and more countries have introduced mechanisms
related to OG processes and policies. Spain has made progress by taking action at
the national and subnational level, highlighting its participation within the Open
Ruvalcaba-Gomez et al. 235
Government Partnership (OGP) since 2011. Beyond the national level, local gov-
ernments are often innovating for themselves as leaders to introduce multiple tools
that promote transparency and open data, as well as citizen participation practices
that promote a more direct democracy. Here, OG has a relationship with the term
smart governance (Criado and Gil-Garcia, 2019; Gil-Garcia et al., 2016; Noveck,
2015; Rodriguez-Bolivar & Meijer, 2016), including elements such as the use of
smart technologies and social innovation, which are linked with democratic values,
transparency, and participation.
Madrid is attracting national and international attention for its innovative OG
public policy, including the United Nations Public Service Award in the Category
“Making institutions inclusive and ensuring participation in decision-making” in
2018 (International Observatory on Participatory Democracy [IOPD], 2018). The
Spanish capital is at an early stage of OG implementation, but it is relevant to
explain why Madrid and other local governments are taking this course of action
and to document their progress. Therefore, this study analyses the adoption of this
novel public management model in a local government. For this purpose, we use
the case of the Madrid City Council to analyze how the process of adoption,
insertion, and development of OG public policy has become a fundamental
pillar of the government’s agenda.
Our empirical analysis is based on the case of the City Council of Madrid. The
main purpose of the study is to apply and reinterpret the MSF in the context of the
adoption of OG as a public policy. To date, MSF studies have not paid much
attention to public management reforms engendered by OG policies. Nonetheless,
this research area deserves consideration not only because it is an emergent source
of interest among governments in different settings, but also because it may pro-
vide distinctive insights into the study of the MSF, including the use of ICTs in the
agenda-setting process. Therefore, the research question that guides this study is:
What were the most relevant factors affecting the adoption process of the Madrid
Open Government Policy (MOGP) and the roles of policy entrepreneurs? This
question is explored using both qualitative and quantitative data.
Methodologically, this article is based on a research project relying on different
data sources. First, we conducted and analyzed 20 semi-structured interviews with
different stakeholders, both in (a) government (including politicians, political
appointees, and technical public off‌icials) and (b) outside government and public
administration (including interest groups, NGOs, and academics). In addition, we
used 13 concepts derived from a literature review and the results of a previous
survey to establish the codes that are linked to the MSF: Open Data, Democracy,
Collaboration, Transparency, Social Networks, Participation, Smart Cities, New
Technologies, Electronic Government, Interoperability, Accountability, Access to
Information, and Co-creation. The objective of this was introducing a novel type
of quantitative analysis in order to determine the link between the 13 concepts and
the three streams of the MSF as an analytical model.
This article offers data about how and why OG policy is inserted in the public
agenda of local governments, focuses on analyzing the role of “policy

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