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Enhanced rationalisation, control or coordination? Impact assessments in the European Union

Wolff, Johannes (2012) Enhanced rationalisation, control or coordination? Impact assessments in the European Union. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Impact assessment (IA) has attracted considerable attention in the worlds of research and practice. IA is discussed extensively and promoted widely as a means to enhance the rationalisation, control and coordination of policy-making. However, at the same time, there has also been disagreement based on whether IL is seen to reflect one single, or multiple rationales. This has, in turn, led to debates about whether particular IA experiences reflect one or a mixture of motives. This thesis therefore explores whether the different ambitions or logics that IA intends to promote can be seen as complementary, whether one dominates, or whether they are contradictory. By looking at the European Union’s IA system — through an in-depth study of five IAS — this thesis finds that while the logic of enhanced control plays a dominant role throughout the policy-making process — particularly during the later policy-making stages — the ambitions or logics of enhanced rationalisation and coordination also play distinct roles. This thesis thereby contributes to the debates about the use of 'meta-instruments' to address the three policy challenges of how to choose the 'best' policy option; how to steer public administrations; and how to coordinate policies across institutional sub-units. In doing so, the thesis departs from earlier studies on IA two significant ways. First, it examines IA as a set of procedural rules, therefore moving away from a focus on the role of the IA report in advancing (or failing to advance) the ambitions of enhanced control, rationalisation or coordination. Second, instead of examining each IA ambition or logic in isolation, this thesis acknowledges a multiplicity of ambitions. This multiplicity is not an aspect of diffusion across jurisdictions or because of policy 'context'; rather, it is a feature of the motives and ambitions of actors interacting and changing at different stages in the policy-making process.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Johannes Wolff
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Lodge, Martin and Page, Edward C.

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