Succesful Agencies

Public agency performance and legitimacy is notoriously difficult to assess as they routinely have to juggle multiple values and competing priorities. Analysts build their frameworks for assessing the performance of public agencies explicitly around the tensions that this generates. This project comprises an indepth, partly historical and partly ethnographic multi-case study of highly reputed public agencies. Creatively combining distinct explanatory frameworks, intensive archival and fieldwork on four successful public agencies (identified through Delphi methodology) will be performed to penetrate the role of institutional architecture, context, leadership, management and communication. Doing so creates an exciting new agenda for public organization theory.

Research Project:

-Explaining regulatory agency success in radical innovation

By Lauren Fahy (PhD candidate, MPA)

Under the supervision of Prof. Judith van Erp & Dr. Scott Douglas

Radical innovations, like social media, cryptocurrencies, and the share economy, disrupt established private markets, regulatory regimes, and societies themselves. Such innovations change the nature and balance of power in markets. They are often technically complex, rapidly changing, and operate on a global scale. Radically innovative products and services can fall through regulatory gaps, problematize long-standing legal categories and rules, and raise questions about the usefulness of regulatory risk models based on ‘status quo’ assumptions. They can even raise controversial political questions about what we value, and what kind of future we want.

In this challenging context, how do regulatory agencies maintain or rebuild public, private, and political support for regulatory regimes affected by radical innovation? What practical, consultative, and communicative strategies have agencies used? Which strategies have enabled agencies to promote regulatory responses that: address the risks and opportunities of the innovation; are legitimate in the eyes of diverse stakeholders; and advance public value for society as a whole? And which may have contributed to irrationality, inefficiency, and an erosion of the regime’s value? Finally, what might successful radical innovation regulation tell us about the capacity of, and conditions for, agencies to facilate open and productive debate and consensus building on the public value of regulation?

This project investigates reputational and legitimation strategies of multiple regulatory agencies, and their impacts, in a number of different national and sub-national jurisdiction facing radical innovations in various regulatory sectors.

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This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No694266)