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The European Union as a Trigger of Discursive Change: The Impact of the Structural Deficit Rule in Estonia and Latvia

Abstract

Our paper explores how a rule prescribed by the European Union can bring about changes in the policy discourse of a member state. Drawing on the literatures of discursive institutionalism and Europeanization, the theoretical part discusses the factors that influence discursive shifts. The empirical part examines the discursive impacts of the introduction of the structural budget deficit rule, required by the Fiscal Compact, in Estonia and Latvia. It demonstrates how the discursive shifts have been shaped by the localized translations offered by civil servants, the entrance of additional actors to the policy-making arena, crisis experience, and the strategic interests of policy actors.

Open access
Technology Roadmaps, Innovation Journeys, and Nanoworld: A Spatio-temporal Consolidation of the EC Nanotechnology Policy

Abstract

Technology roadmaps have become an essential part of the European Commission’s (EC) nanotechnology policy strategies. They represent socio-technical landscapes and evolving pathways, suggesting the underlying or otherwise supportive metaphorical patterns and narrative structures. For the same reason, however, roadmaps are problematic assemblages: they can simplify and distort reality, and filter things that don’t fit. The presented study combines cognitive linguistics with narratology to scrutinise the European Commission’s nanotechnology roadmapping as a discursive formation. It targets the systematic metaphors in approximately two-hundred news and reports on nanotechnology, compiled ad hoc from the CORDIS database (between the years 1999–2015). It is argued that the identified metaphors correspond to a discourse topology of ‘locations’, ‘events’, and their structures, especially as regards to the dilemma of ‘path dependence’, overcoming ‘knowledge gaps’, and reaching ‘nanoworld’. These are accompanied by a narrative climax of developing mature science policy model, in the arrangement of actions and roles for the European governments, science (nanotechnology), policy, and the public. The study demonstrates how systematic metaphors engage all the actors in the narrative of ‘innovation journey’ to form stabilised structures of meaning, that is, spatio-temporal consolidation of nanotechnology policy. It is imperative to continuously assess the context of such consolidation, being less overt but not necessarily less effective, in privileging some meanings, interests, and practices over the others, thereby excluding other political alternatives.

Open access
Advocacy Coalitions in Transport Policy: A Case of Rail Sector in Croatia

Abstract

The author analyses the transport policy of the rail sector in Croatia and tries to give answers regarding the policy stability and change based on the actors in the rail transport. The aim of the paper is to give an overview of the development of the rail sector in modern Croatia and to explore, in a larger period, the relations and beliefs of all types of actors in this area at the national level. As a theoretical background, the author uses an advocacy coalition framework, which states that policy actors are grouped into coalitions within a policy subsystem in which they advocate their beliefs in order to transfer them into government programs, thus provoking change and stability in the system. The author methodologically uses qualitative content analysis in the form of coding of the collected material based on transcripts of interviews with actors, official documents, and transcript of one parliamentary debate. Following is a review of the historical development of the rail sector in Croatia, with an emphasis on the post-independence Croatia period, which provides a basis for concrete research findings. The results are presented in two units: (1) identified actors and their relations, and (2) beliefs of actors. The follow-up discussion points to the existence of similar patterns of beliefs among the actors at the national level. However, the empirical material collected does not establish clear relationships that could be classified as an advocacy coalition. In conclusion, the author argues that the coded material does not give away any importance of the coalitions of actors at the national level for policy stability and change of rail sector leading to recommendations for further research in this area, where other transport sectors should be included as well as international actors.

Open access
Assessing the performance of social spending in Europe

Abstract

Based on the construction of a composite index to assess the relative performance of welfare policies, we show that the variability of performances cannot be explained only by the amount of resources devoted to social policies, but also by its composition: countries with higher shares of social public expenditure, specifically aimed at reducing income concentration, obtain better results. This associates the traditional classification of the European welfare systems to the performance obtained in the social sector.

Open access
Education in the Anticommons: Evidence from Romania

Abstract

The process of administrative decentralization of the education system in Romania proceeded in chaotic steps. It was done under the pressure, on one hand, of the EU integration requirements and, on the other hand, of the local administrations who wanted more control over how their money were used in the schools and of the parents committees that wanted to have a say in the local schools. The road was scattered with new reform legislations coming with every change in government composition and ministers. The result was a combination of local autonomy and central control that had the potential to produce confusion and conflict. The multiple and complex blend of divided responsibilities and powers turned out in the process of setting up the new form or entry grade in the Romanian primary education cycle in a rational strategic play scholarly designated as anticommons. Each separated actor tries to obtain a maximizing share of the cooperatively generated benefit for a minimum possible cost. The interactions are modeled as a Game of Chicken where, because actors calculate separately, each selects a higher price/lower quantity position than is optimal, resulting in a lower net payoff both individually and collectively.

Open access
Internal ministerial advisory bodies: An attempt to transform governing in the Slovak Republic

Abstract

In the Slovak Republic, a number of internal ministerial advisory bodies, intended to provide high-quality analyses and evidence based policy making for national policy, have been established over the last two years. We have studied how the rational technocratic model of scientific policy advice as a specific mode of governing, acted out through these new institutional sites of expertise, survives in a highly politicised environment of the Slovak public administration. Central to our study was the reconstruction of an intersubjective account central to the work of organising on which the analytical centres and their staff, as well as their patrons, participate. Complementary to this, we focused on intersubjectively shared elements of the analysts’ community and subculture within the dominant CEE public administration culture. The vision of governing with expertise shared by analytical centres rests on the principles of transparency, orientation on professional merit (primarily econometric, analytical skills), voluntarism, conflict avoidance, political opportunism and institutional autonomy. Analytical centres identify themselves as a distinct professional group – in fact, they form a distinct organisational subculture around traits such as demographic characteristics (predominantly young males with economic or mathematical/IT background), symbols, hierarchies, working culture, humour, as well as artefacts. Analysts see their mission in the provision of impartial, objective analytical evidence for informed decision making, yet they negotiate the boundary between politics and expertise on a daily basis, and, as we found, in numerous aspects of analysts’ work politics cannot be entirely bracketed.

Open access
Childcare policy in the Czech Republic and Norway: two countries, two paths with many possibilities

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to analyse and compare the design and governance of the contemporary childcare policy in the Czech Republic and Norway in relation to the situation of households with dependent children under school age. Following this, we review certain provisions of the childcare policies of the two countries, whose systems possessed certain similarities at the beginning of the 1990s, although they represent distinct types of welfare state. Our analysis reveals that the chief differences in childcare policy have persisted and adapted to the key features of the welfare regimes. The two countries’ central childcare policy values contrast with each other (equity and free choice in Norway vs. re-familisation and strong ‘family dependency’ among individuals in the Czech Republic) and exhibit differences in the structure and extent of policy measures, as well. Policies in both are less sensitive to the needs of children with specific needs (such as migrants in Norway or Roma children in the Czech Republic).

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Determinants of the Policy Impact of Analytical Communities in Russian Regions: Cases of Karelia, Tatarstan and Saratov

Abstract

This paper evaluates the policy impact of analytical communities in three Russian regions (Karelia, Tatarstan and Saratov). Based on the existing methods to assess the political power of think tanks, the authors develop a method to evaluate this impact. The authors test this method using the empirical data and findings from interviews, workshops with representatives of analytical communities of the three regions, and from observations and assessments of experts in regional politics. In conclusion, the authors argue that the capacity of analytical communities to impact policy change in a region depends on the level of political competition and pluralism and democratic institutions in the region; the level of consolidation of the analytical community, its autonomous political status and authority.

Open access