Led by: prof.dr. M.A.P. Bovens
Participants: dr. W. Bakker, dr. H. Binnema, prof.dr. R.A. Boin, prof.dr. M.A.P. Bovens, dr. G.J. Brandsma, prof.dr. D.M. Curtin, prof.dr. P.'t Hart, dr. S.L. Kuipers, dr. A. Meijer, dr. M. v.d. Meulen, dr. A. Michels, prof.dr. M. Noordegraaf, dr. S. Princen, dr T. Schillemans, prof.dr. M. Trappenburg, dr. K. Yesilkagit, dr. F. van Esch.
Ph.D students: S.G. Grimmelikhuijsen, MSc. LLB., S.H.J. Jacobs, MSc. MA, Drs. B. Leufgen MA, MES, A. van Veen MA.
This research line examines how various social transformations impact on democratic and accountable governance in the public sector.
To begin with, we look at the transition from hierarchical, command-style relationships between government and society, to horizontal negotiation-based relations in which the exercise of public authority occurs in cooperation with (semi) private organizations and (semi) independent regulators. Secondly, processes of administrative up scaling, immigration and internationalisation have put extra pressure on the traditional arrangements for democratic participation and public accountability. Many political, administrative, and legal decisions are taken in the offices of the European institutions, in global networks, and during treaty negotiations. These two developments have been further bolstered by the burgeoning growth of informatization processes and the subsequent rise of what one could call a knowledge society.
In this research line we particularly focus on the consequences of these transformations for democratic and accountable governance. First of all, the tangible effects of these trends on processes of political participation, agenda setting, leadership, and public account giving are charted. Are new, multi-level or horizontal venues for participation and account giving developing that match these transitions in governance? Secondly, this research line also boasts a more evaluative, prescriptive component. Do these transformations result in democratic or accountability deficits? What should the design of arrangements for participation, control, and accountability look like in modern systems of public governance?
For both types of questions we concentrate our research on a number of specific areas:
- Agenda setting and decision-making in situations of multi-level governance. For example, how has the EU’s political agenda evolved over time and why have certain issues made it onto the agenda while others have not? These questions guide various research projects of Sebastiaan Princen and Femke van Esch.
- The performance and dynamics of a variety of arrangements for democratic control and public accountability, regarding political leadership, politico-administrative relations, independent administrative bodies and regulators, public private partnerships, and within the context of interactive policy-making. See for this the research conducted by Wieger Bakker, Paul ‘t Hart, Ank Michels, Thomas Schillemans, Margot Trappenburg, Kutsal Yesilkagit, and PhD Berend Snijders.
- The conceptualization and practices of public accountability within a context of multi-level governance, in particular regarding the institutions of the European Union and international arenas of administration and policy. See for example the NWO program Multilevel governance and public accountability in Europe: Which institutions, which practices, which deficit?, in which Mark Bovens, Paul ’t Hart, Deirdre Curtin, Sebastiaan Princen, Albert Meijer, Marianne van de Steeg, and the PhD’s Gijs Jan Brandsma and Madalina Busuoic are collaborating. This project focuses on the issue whether there exist accountability deficits in the EU, in particular with regard to EU agencies, comitology committees, and the European Council. In other projects Albert Meijer, Deirdre Curtin and Gijs Jan Brandsma explore issues of transparency related to the European Union.
- The risks and opportunities offered by informatization regarding the conceptualization and securing of transparency, participation, and public accountability. See in this respect the research performed by Albert Meijer, Mark Bovens, and PhD student Stephan Grimmelikhuijsen that involves research into political trust and the effects on citizen trust and agency performance of internet transparency. Related topics, such as changing political behaviour on internet, new forms of citizen participation, and the public governance of new technologies, are investigated by Albert Meijer and Ank Michels.