This paper asks whether strong bureaucracies can effectively constrain the continuously growing stock of rules in modern democracies through organizational coordination and learning. To answer this question, the paper analyzes the growth of rule stocks in the areas of environmental policy and social policy in 23 OECD countries over the period between 1976 and 2005. To do so, it develops a new measure of rule growth based on the content of laws and regulations rather than their length. The analysis highlights that effective bureaucracies are indeed better able to contain rule growth in these areas than weak bureaucracies. Since rules have to be implemented, countries suffering from bureaucratic capacity and quality constraints thus appear to be stuck in an implementation deficit trap. Appropriate implementation is not only inherently more challenging for countries with weak public administrations, but the body of rules to be implemented also tends to grow quicker in these countries.
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We thus consciously decide to conceptualize the relevant aspect of policy legacy differently fort the two different sectors. Since the time of pioneering in welfare state policy has been over for a very long time, the specific institutional setting created at this juncture seems more important. In contrast, environmental pioneering is a much more recent phenomenon (judged by the start of our observation period) that has not generated systems that are as different as the different welfare state systems.
We avoid mentioning the name of the project as well as the financing institution at this stage of the review to keep the review process anonymous. All necessary details to judge the contents of the project are provided by the text above.
Future research might want to focus specifically on trying to identify more complex (potentially non-monotonic) relationships between consensus requirements and rule growth.
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The authors are grateful to two anonymous referees for their highly helpful and constructive comments to earlier versions of this manuscript.
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Adam, C., Knill, C. & Fernandez-i-Marín, X. Rule growth and government effectiveness: why it takes the capacity to learn and coordinate to constrain rule growth. Policy Sci 50, 241–268 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11077-016-9265-x
- Bureaucracy effectiveness
- Rule growth
- Environmental policy
- Social policy