Conceptualizing throughput legitimacy: Procedural mechanisms of accountability, transparency, inclusiveness and openness in EU governance

AuthorVivien Schmidt,Matthew Wood
Published date01 December 2019
Date01 December 2019
Conceptualizing throughput legitimacy: Procedural
mechanisms of accountability, transparency,
inclusiveness and openness in EU governance
Vivien Schmidt
| Matthew Wood
Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston
University, Boston, MA, USA
Department of Politics, University of
Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
Matthew Wood, Department of Politics,
University of Sheffield, Elmfield,
Northumberland Road, Sheffield S10 2TU,
Funding information
Matthew Wood acknowledges funding from
the Economic and Social Research Council
Future Leaders Fellowship scheme, Grant/
Award Number: ES/L010925/1; ESRC
Health Governance After Brexit: Law,
Language and Legitimacy, Grant/Award
Number: ES/S00730X/1.
This symposium demonstrates the potential for throughput
legitimacy as a concept for shedding empirical light on the
strengths and weaknesses of multi-level governance, as well
as challenging the concept theoretically. This article intro-
duces the symposium by conceptualizing throughput legiti-
macy as an umbrella concept, encompassing a constellation
of normative criteria not necessarily empirically interrelated.
It argues that in order to interrogate multi-level governance
processes in all their complexity, it makes sense for us to
develop normative standards that are not naïve about the
empirical realities of how power is exercised within multi-
level governance, or how it may interact with legitimacy.
We argue that while throughput legitimacy has its norma-
tive limits, it can be substantively useful for these purposes.
While being no replacement for input and output legitimacy,
throughput legitimacy offers distinctive normative criteria
accountability, transparency, inclusiveness and openness
and points towards substantive institutional reforms.
In recent years, the procedural aspects of legitimacy at the supranational level have garnered increasing attention. In
international relations and regional studies, scholars have been concerned with how to assess the quality of suprana-
tional governance (see, e.g., Schmidt 2013; Rittberger and Schroeder 2016; Tallberg and Zürn 2019), while in interna-
tional organization studies and public administration, scholars have focused on how to evaluate good governancein
Received: 25 February 2019 Revised: 19 June 2019 Accepted: 27 June 2019
DOI: 10.1111/padm.12615
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
© 2019 The Authors. Public Administration published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Public Administration. 2019;97:727740. 727

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