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A novel understanding of experimentation in governance: co-producing innovations between “lab” and “field”

Abstract

What do experiments do for governance? Along with pragmatist and performative conceptions, we argue that they do not test already existing conditions of governing, but actively transform such conditions. Experiments help to realize specific models of governance by co-producing collective knowledge and material practices. We analyze a series of experiments with “emissions trading” in the USA between 1968 and 2000. The historical perspective shows how different types of experiments worked together: experiments in the laboratory and in the field supported each other in creating epistemic and political authority. This “ping-pong between lab and field” produced subjects and objects, facts and values, knowledge and power and aligned them in a new socio-material configuration, thus realizing emissions trading as a new form of governance.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. Data sources include academic literature, policy documents, websites, personal archives, and interviews (conducted in 2010) with experts involved in the developments described here.

  2. We have worked extensively on this case. To see how our account differs from alternative explanations for how emissions trading emerged as a policy, see Voß (2007a, b), Voß and Simons (2014), Simons and Voß (2018, 2015), Simons (2015, 2016).

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Voß, JP., Simons, A. A novel understanding of experimentation in governance: co-producing innovations between “lab” and “field”. Policy Sci 51, 213–229 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11077-018-9313-9

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Keywords

  • Experimental governance
  • Policy innovation
  • Policy design
  • Policy instrument
  • Emissions trading
  • Science and technology studies
  • Performativity
  • Epistemic authority
  • Political authority
  • Science–policy interaction