6th Framework Programme (2002-2006)
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Project 05 Detail:
New Modes of Governance in the Shadow of Hierarchy
Project completed

This project examined whether the political efficiency and policy effectiveness of the new modes depend on their being linked to ‘hierarchy’, i.e. traditional modes of governing. It has been a central argument and empirical finding of our research that old forms of government and new forms of governance are very frequently linked. In raising the question about the importance of the shadow of hierarchy, we precisely focused on that question and found that the role a credible threat of legislation plays is crucial in prompting private actors to engage in new modes of governance. And the shadow of hierarchy is equally important to ensure that the objectives of the new modes are followed by implementation/execution. What complicates the picture is that new modes of governance are sometimes subject to several shadows of hierarchy: in other words two different governmental actors may claim supervision over the actors engaged in a new mode of governance.

New modes of governance take on different forms: they may consist of (a) the self-regulation of private actors, or (b) the co-regulation of public and private actors or (c) the voluntary cooperation of public actors. ‘Hierarchy’, too, comes in different guises: (a) legislative majority decisions; (b) executive decisions; (c) or court rulings. The nature of the links of different new modes of governance to ‘hierarchy’ may vary as well. It may be sequential in that hierarchy follows new modes when the new modes prove to be inefficient in terms of political decision-making and ineffective in policy terms. By threatening with ‘hierarchy’, be it in the form of a legislative decision, an executive decision, or a court ruling, it is hoped that the decision-making process under the new modes is accelerated and their policy performance is improved. Sequence in time, however, is not the only possible link. The new modes may also co-exist with traditional modes of policy-making, and by their simultaneous existence offer different venues of policy-making. By offering a choice beween arenas of policy making, a certain competition is established between political arenas. This may exert pressure on the responsible actors in the new arena to become more efficient in decision-making and effective in achieving policy goals. In both cases, however, it would be wrong, to consider ‘hierarchy’ just a form of sanctioning in the case that actors under a new mode of governance ‘do not get their act together’. Rather the linking of the arena of self-regulation with the arena of legislation opens new possibilities of coalition building between actors of the two arenas which may empower actors which otherwise would have less opportunities to achieve their policy goals. In brief, the political processes that link new modes and hierarchy are more complicated that it may seem at first glance. Its dynamic need to be investigated systematically and in depth in order to produce general, empirically validated insights.

The conditions under which the new modes of governance need to be linked to hierarchy in order to be successful were viewed from an additional angle. Their political efficiency and policy effectiveness, it is argued, also depend on the particular problem type at hand, linked with particular interest configurations. More specifically, it is likely that the link is only needed if a measure deals with redistributive or prisoner’s dilemma problems, but not in cases where new modes deal with distributive problems, co-ordination problems or locally self-contained or discrete problems.



Page updated: 9/12/08

Co-ordinated by the European University Institute