Department of Comparative Politics
Research project

CONSULTATIONEFFECTS: Effects of stakeholder consultations on the policy inputs, processes and outcomes of executive policymaking

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The project, lead by Associate Professor Adriana Bunea, is funded through an ERC grant.
European Research Council

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Project description

Consultations with stakeholders (citizens and interest organizations) are frequently used by executive bureaucracies to design policies and formulate legislation. Consultations constitute a direct communication link between decision-makers and affected actors, and represent an important channel through which information and policy feedback is received by policymakers. Executive bureaucracies such as national ministries, regulatory agencies and the European Commission employ a variety of consultation designs that combine different practices (e.g. public consultations, public hearings, workshops, expert groups, advisory committees) to engage  stakeholders in the formulation of policy initiatives. Stakeholder consultations are also key to European economic growth strategies such as the Lisbon Agenda and Europe 2020, and an essential component of better lawmaking and better regulation agendas.

Despite their near ubiquitous use and legitimising rhetoric, there is currently no systematic analysis assessing empirically the assumption that stakeholders’ participation in policymaking via consultations improves policymaking and results in better outcomes and more legitimate governance. This project aims to address this gap and to systematically investigate and explain the effects of stakeholder consultation designs on policy inputs, processes and outcomes of executive policymaking in 29 political systems: all 28 EU Member States and the EU polity. The project pioneers a path-breaking conceptualisation of consultation designs as institutions of political participation and representation  They play a key instrumental role in the institutional balance of power and constitute a new source of bureaucratic reputation, autonomy and power. The project elaborates an original theory explaining consultation effects on policymaking that accounts for the intrinsic challenges of democratising 21st century bureaucracies, and the inherent trade-offs of democratic and technocratic policymaking. Empirically, the project breaks new ground by designing an ambitious data collection strategy aimed to construct an original, comparative dataset on stakeholder consultation designs and characteristics of inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes observed at policy proposal level, across policy areas and political systems.