The Changing Functions of Laws and its Implication for Government and Governance
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Number of pages
SourceInternational Review of Administrative Sciences, 68, 4, (2002), pp. 599-618
Article / Letter to editor
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Bestuurskunde, ihb interne org en werkw openb.best
International Review of Administrative Sciences
SubjectInstitutional Shifts in Government and Governance in a Comparative and International Context
Many people see a continuing trend towards governance and away from government. This article tries to show that trends last only for so long. Based on long-term reasoning it is seen that within any trend a countertrend is visible, which will eventually become dominant when being suppressed for too long and when the side effects of the current trend are neglected for too long. This is congruent with the idea of policy generations I introduced in an earlier article (De Vries, 1999). The distinguishing features thereof are that policy change can be seen as a consequence of the simultaneous periodical change of dominant actors in policy processes, the policy goals as well as the usage of particular policy instruments. Such policy generations are not only known for what they prioritize but especially for what they neglect. It is neglect and awareness of the negative effects of this neglect that make the trends shift in this theory. By looking at developments in The Netherlands in the use of policy instruments and especially law-making four trends are visible since the Second World War. First, a trend is distinguished in which laws regulating behavior by prescriptions are dominant in the 1950s. Next, a trend is seen from 1963 onwards, in which new regulations are used mainly to ground financial transfers. Subsequently, in the 1980s, we see a trend in which organizational affairs, efficiency and deregulation become dominant and since 1992 a trend is visible in which governance indicated by the popularity of temporary arrangements and striving for consultation is the dominant mode. This article predicts that in the near future this trend will be reversed again, because the drawbacks of the present trend are painfully surfacing.
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