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1 Implementing Complex Policy Initiatives: Layering, Drift, Conversion and Policy Design as Alternative Outcomes of System Reform Efforts in Transition.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Implementing Complex Policy Initiatives: Layering, Drift, Conversion and Policy Design as Alternative Outcomes of System Reform Efforts in Transition."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Implementing Complex Policy Initiatives: Layering, Drift, Conversion and Policy Design as Alternative Outcomes of System Reform Efforts in Transition Management Socio-Technical System Workshop Paper Potsdam, September 21, 2007 M. Howlett, Institute for Governance Research (IGS) Department of Political Science Simon Fraser University Burnaby BC, Canada V5A 1S6

2 2 Overall Objectives Overview: Workshop and Paper Aims –Workshop Proposal: Is it politically possible to induce and shape sustainable socio-technical transitions, and, if so, how? (and) What kind of governance seems most appropriate for the innovation of sustainable production-consumption decisions? (and) How could adequate forms of governance be developed and introduced? (p.1) –This paper addresses several definitional and other conceptual questions related to transition management such as: how do policy studies typically understand socio-economic transformations and the role played in them by governments? What is involved in transition management from a governance perspective? And what can policy studies contribute to the understanding of these phenomena?

3 3 Four Key Questions in the Analysis of Socio-Technical Transition Management from a Policy Perspective 1. What is a socio-technical system and how have policy studies dealt with them in the past? 2. How difficult is it to change socio-technical systems through government action? 3. What are the governance arrangements and policy tools available for transition management? 4. What are the likely outcomes of transition management activities utilizing these policy tools and governance strategies?

4 4 Question #1 - What is a socio-technical system and how have policy studies dealt with them in the past? Socio-technical systems are large-scale arrangements of actors, institutions, ideas and practices that govern how human societies generate wealth and re-produce themselves: –created out of traditional means and relations of production which are altered by various forms of production-related innovations –useful to look at such processes as a system or network broader than just technological invention and is dependent on a host of socio-economic factors –the nature and operation of relevant institutions that pursue innovation –the economic and social incentives that encourage or discourage innovation –the capacity for diffusion of knowledge and innovation

5 5 Question #1 - What is a socio-technical system and how have policy studies dealt with them in the past? Faults in socio-technical systems – such as weak incentives for innovation, social and economic instability, bad infrastructure and inadequate human capital - can reduce the capacity of the system to develop and apply knowledge innovatively. This holds out the promise that policies can also guide innovation and socio-technical system orientations and components towards new ends, such as sustainability by fostering changes in innovation system behaviour (such as new green research or technical targets). –Transition management is based on the notion that governments should be able to steer, plan or guide the direction of socio- technical transformation by varying or manipulating system parameters through the astute use of policy tools.

6 6 Question #1 - What is a socio-technical system and how have policy studies dealt with them in the past? Contribution of Policy Studies Socio-technical systems seen as existing at the outermost layer of a funnel of causality; a model of policy determinants popularized in the 1970s in which a set of independent variables affecting policy outcomes exist within a `nested' relationship (Hofferbert 1974). –Socio-technical systems seen as the largest or most indirect background condition or independent variable affecting government policy-making, and not as a dependent variable affected by policy activity. Socio-technical conditions thus viewed as worthy of some attention but not detailed treatment, because in most cases they can be considered a given or constant, only creating a constraint and opportunity structure for more proximate variables such as political ideas and power and decision-making behaviour.

7 7 Question #1 - What is a socio-technical system and how have policy studies dealt with them in the past?

8 8 Socio-Technical Systems can also be seen as a dependent variable –Indirect and Direct Effects of Policy on Socio-technical systems (1) Indirect effects are diffused through other intervening variables, (leading to suggestions for niche management strategies for socio-technical system transformation); and (2) More direct transition management efforts aimed specifically at large-scale, system-wide, change and targeted at specific aspects of the structure and operation of an existing socio- technical system.

9 9 Question #1 - What is a socio-technical system and how have policy studies dealt with them in the past?

10 10 Question # 2 - How difficult is it to change socio-technical systems through government action? Socio-technical systems are self-reinforcing and have difficult-to-alter trajectories Trajectories are path dependent in the sense that initial decisions affect later ones and hence later outcomes so that the sequencing of events is critical and innovations, for good or bad, once in place are difficult to change (Pierson 2000; Greener 2002; Howlett and Rayner 2006). Change can be thought of as linear/evolutionary and only subject to indirect government action or as tending to occurs in an irregular, non-linear or punctuated equilibrium fashion and subject to direct government policy activity (Berkhout, 2002).

11 11 Question # 2 - How difficult is it to change socio-technical systems through government action? With direct action, governments must carefully calibrate their actions against their assessment of the stage at which a trajectory may be. –The role of government is different in each phase of the transition process. In the preparation phase it must play the catalyst and director… in the take-off phase, other actors must be mobilized in the direction of the transition objective. Here and in the acceleration phase, the government has to stimulate learning processes about possible solutions…In the stabilization phase the guidance is mainly oriented towards embedding, to prevent or contain backlashes and other negative effects: so a role as controller and consolidator (Rotman, Kemp and van Asselt (2001) p. 26)

12 12 Question # 2 - How difficult is it to change socio-technical systems through government action? There are four principles types of transformation (Smith, Stirling and Berkhout (2005): –endogenous renewal - existing regime members make conscious efforts to adapt based on a common perception of external threats to existing systems; –re-orientation of trajectories - clearly defined internal or external shocks lead to unco-ordinated responses; –emergent transformation - poorly understood external processes promote long-term change and responses are unco-ordinated and poorly informed; and –purposive transitions - governments and key actors develop and push forward new technologies and related changes in existing socio-technical systems in the absence of common perceptions of threats or opportunities arising from new developments and innovations (pp ).

13 13 Question # 2 - How difficult is it to change socio-technical systems through government action? The careful planning and calibration of government activities requires a great deal of capacity and expertise on the part of a government, which it may not have in great supply. –Governments must have a reasonably high level of policy analytical capacity in order to perform its tasks in the proper order and sequence and develop medium and long-term projections, proposals for, and evaluations of, future government activities and not simply react to short-term political, economic or ecological challenges and imperatives occurring in their policy environments (Fellegi 1996, Singleton 2001, Anderson 1996, Bakvis 2000).

14 14 Question #3 - What are the governance arrangements and policy tools available for transition management? In its broadest sense, governance is a term used to describe the mode of government coordination exercised by state actors in their effort to solve familiar problems of collective action inherent to government and governing. Governance is thus all about establishing, promoting and supporting a specific type of relationship between governmental and non-governmental actors in the governing process. Several common types of governance strategies or arrangements exist (Considine)

15 15 Question #3 - What are the governance arrangements and policy tools available for transition management? Mode of Governance Central Focus of Governance Activity Form of State Control of Governance Relationships Overall Governance Aim Prime Service Delivery Mechanism Key Procedural Tool for Policy Implementation Legal Governance Legality - Promotion of law and order in social relationships Legislation, Law and Rules Legitimacy - Voluntary Compliance Rights - Property, Civil, Human Courts and Litigation Corporate Governance Management - of Major Organized Social Actors PlansControlled and Balanced Rates of Socio- economic Development Targets - Operational Objectives Specialized and Privileged Advisory Committees Market Governance Competition - Promotion of Small and Medium sized Enterprises Contracts and Regulations Resource/Cost Efficiency and Control Prices - Controlling for Externalities, Supply and Demand Regulatory Boards, Tribunals and Commissions Network Governance Relationships- Promotion of Inter- actor organizational Activity CollaborationCo-Optation of Dissent and Self- Organization of Social Actors Networks of Governmental, and Non- Governmental Organizations Subsides and Expenditures on Network Brokerage Activities

16 16 Question #3 - What are the governance arrangements and policy tools available for transition management? The types of governance strategies most suited to direct socio-technical transformation are corporate and market since co-operation of affected parties is required for such action. Transition managers can affect governance goal-setting through the use of procedural policy tools – such as provision of information to, the extension of funding to, and the appointment to advisory boards and commissions of members of interest groups and organizations supportive of sustainability, or the re-organization of government agencies and departments to emphasize particular sustainability goals or orientations

17 17 Question #3 - What are the governance arrangements and policy tools available for transition management? Other tools are also needed. Means-oriented policy components (instruments, mechanisms and calibrations), affect the implementation of governance goals, objectives and settings on- the-ground and are accomplished through the use of traditional substantive tools which focus on the manner in which goods and services are produced and distributed in society.

18 18 Question #3 - What are the governance arrangements and policy tools available for transition management? Ultimately a policy arrangement or mix is composed of many parts that must be integrated (I.e. co-ordinated and coherent) Policy Content High Level AbstractionProgramme Level Operationalization Specific On-the-Ground Measures Policy Ends or Aims GOALS What General Types of Ideas Govern Policy Development? (e.g. environmental protection, economic development) OBJECTIVES What Does Policy Formally Aim to Address? (e.g. saving wilderness or species habitat, increasing harvesting levels to create processing jobs) SETTINGS What are the Specific On-the-ground Requirements of Policy (e.g. considerations about the optimal size of designated stream- bed riparian zones, or sustainable levels of harvesting) Policy Focus Policy Means or Tools INSTRUMENT LOGIC What General Norms Guide Implementation Preferences? (e.g. preferences for the use of coercive instruments, or moral suasion) MECHANISMS What Specific Types of Instruments are Utilized? (e.g. the use of different tools such as tax incentives, or public enterprises) CALIBRATIONS What are the Specific Ways in Which the Instrument is used? (e.g. designations of higher levels of subsidies, the use of mandatory vs voluntary regulatory guidelines or standards)

19 19 QUESTION #4 - What are the Likely Outcomes of Transition Management Utilizing these Policy Tools and Governance Strategies? Four common Outcomes of Efforts to Integrate Governance Arrangements –Layering is a process whereby new goals and instruments are simply added to and existing regime without abandoning previous ones, typically leading to both incoherence amongst the goals and inconsistency with respect to instruments used. –Drift occurs when the goals of the policy change without changing the instruments used to implement them, which then can become inconsistent with the new goals and most likely ineffective in achieving them (Tornvlied and Akkerman 2004). –Conversion involves changes in instrument mixes while holding goals constant. If the goals are inconsistent, then changes in policy tools may reduce levels of implementation conflicts or enhance them, but are unlikely to succeed in matching means and ends of policy. –Design occurs when there is a conscious effort made to create or fundamentally re-structure policies so that they are consistent and coherent in terms of their goals and means orientations (Eliadis, Hill and Howlett 2004; Gunningham and Sinclair 1999).

20 20 QUESTION #4 - What are the Likely Outcomes of Transition Management Utilizing these Policy Tools and Governance Strategies? The existing evidence shows that many existing policy regimes or mixes have developed haphazardly through processes of policy layering, or repeated bouts of policy conversion or policy drift, in which new tools and objectives have been piled on top of older ones, creating a palimpsest-like mixture of inconsistent and incoherent policy elements. Recognizing the drawbacks of layering, conversion and drift, policy makers and critics have increasingly turning to the promotion of complex policy mixes that have been designed, rather than incrementally developed (Meijers 2004; Briassoulis 2005; Meijers and Stead 2004). The explicit goal of these new designs is optimization and the avoidance of contradictory or conflicting mixes of policy tools (Gunningham et al 1998, Gunningham and Sinclair 1999).

21 21 QUESTION #4 - What are the Likely Outcomes of Transition Management Utilizing these Policy Tools and Governance Strategies? Notions of smart or optimal policy design (Gunningham, Grabosky and Sinclair 1998; Gunningham and Sinclair 1999; Eliadis, Hill and Howlett 2005) emphasize: –1.The importance of designing policies that employ a mix of policy instruments carefully chosen to create positive interactions with each other. –2.The importance of considering the full range of policy instruments when designing the mix. –3.The increased use of alternative tools such as, various forms of self-regulation by industry, and policies that can employ commercial and non-commercial third parties to achieve compliance, such as suppliers, customers and a growing cast of auditors and certifiers. –4.Finally, the importance of the search for new network-appropriate procedural policy instruments, and various techniques of network management (Howlett and Rayner 2004).

22 22 QUESTION #4 - What are the Likely Outcomes of Transition Management Utilizing these Policy Tools and Governance Strategies? There is no guarantee, however, that an optimal policy mix will result from a (re)design effort - such as transition management. This would only occur if a government had enough capacity to be able to adopt a governance strategy and set of policy tools likely to lead to a sustainable socio-technical transition and avoid the pitfalls of policy layering while so doing.

23 23 Conclusions Q1. What is a socio-technical system and how have policy studies dealt with them in the past? –A1. Socio-technical systems are large-scale arrangements of actors, institutions, ideas and practices that govern how human societies generate wealth and re-produce themselves (Dosi et al, 1988). They are created out of traditional means and relations of production which are altered by various forms of production-related innovations. These systems have been seen as both the subject and object of policy activity, serving as a multiply-mediated objective constraint on policy activity and as a subject both of an indirect and difficult-to- control process of government influence filtered through many intervening steps and variables, and also as a candidate for more direct government manipulation.

24 24 Conclusions Q2. How difficult is it to change socio-technical systems through government action? –A2. Socio-technical systems are path dependent and very difficult to change through government action (transition management). The need to carefully calibrate government actions with the degree to which a trajectory is institutionalized and with the attitude and behaviour of other actors to the planned transformation, in the context of whether or not changes are clearly recognized and/or self- propelled, raises the issue of the policy analytical capacity of the transforming government to plan and operate the specific types of policy tools it has at its disposal to implement change. The careful planning and calibration of government activities requires a great deal of capacity and expertise on the part of a government, which it may not have in great supply.

25 25 Conclusions Q3. What are the governance arrangements and policy tools available for transition management? –A3. Transition management involves the use of multiple tools in policy instrument mixes established to operationalize a particular mode of governance or governance strategy. There is a set of eight basic types of instruments from which any policy mix is constructed; setting out the range of options which transition managers have at their disposal in attempting to design or alter an existing socio-technical paradigm. However, these tools are embedded in governance strategies and the types of strategies best suited to purposive transitions in socio-technical systems are market and corporatist ones.

26 26 Conclusions Q4. What are the likely outcomes of transition management utilizing these policy tools and Governance Strategies? –A4. Overall, this analysis suggests that the likely result of government transition management efforts is a less than perfectly co-ordinated response to short-term challenges, rather than a long- term effort at optimal planning (Lee and Yoo, 2007). In such a context, the most likely outcome of transition management efforts is policy layering or policy drift/conversion, as events and occurrence overtake sustainability strategies and lead to a disjuncture between policy goals and means. Only when planning occurs in high capacity governments, is it likely to result in effective integrated design.


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