Ege, Jörn

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How street-level dilemmas and politics shape divergence : The accountability regimes framework

2023-05-04, Thomann, Eva, Maxia, James, Ege, Jörn

Hierarchical accountability often proves insufficient to control street-level implementation, where complex, informal accountability relations prevail and tasks must be prioritized. However, scholars lack a theoretical model of how accountability relations affect implementation behaviors that are inconsistent with policy. By extending the Accountability Regimes Framework (ARF), this paper explains how multiple competing subjective street-level accountabilities translate into policy divergence. The anti-terrorism “Prevent Duty” policy in the United Kingdom requires university lecturers to report any student they suspect may be undergoing a process of radicalization. We ask: what perceived street-level accountabilities and dilemmas does this politically contested policy imply for lecturers, and how do they affect divergence? An online survey of British lecturers (N = 809), combined with 35 qualitative follow-up interviews, reveals that accountability dilemmas trigger policy divergence. The ARF models how street-level bureaucrats become informal policymakers in the political system when rules clash with their roles as professionals, citizen-agents, or “political animals.”

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Avoiding disciplinary garbage cans : a pledge for a problem-driven approach to researching international public administration

2022-07-03, Ege, Jörn, Bauer, Michael W., Bayerlein, Louisa, Eckhard, Steffen, Knill, Christoph

In this article, we distinguish two approaches to studying international public administrations (IPAs). On the one hand, there is a line of research that is grounded in traditional Public Administration (PA) and seeks to understand IPAs through established disciplinary lenses. On the other hand, scholars conceive IPAs as posing new problems and questions and are trying to integrate the standpoints of their respective disciplines into a broader research agenda. We argue that both perspectives have their merits – and limitations. However, the more IPAs are understood as phenomena heralding the emergence of transnationalized political systems, the less traditional PA toolkits appear able to capture the innovative aspects IPAs may hold. This essay thus argues for keeping IPA research as a field of study open, integrative and mixed – to encourage out of the box thinking and innovation, rather than stifle it.

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Under what conditions does bureaucracy matter in the making of global public policies?

2023, Ege, Jörn, Bauer, Michael W., Wagner, Nora, Thomann, Eva

This study investigates how configurations of bureaucratic autonomy, policy complexity and political contestation allow international public administrations (IPAs) to influence policymaking within international organizations. A fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis of 17 policy decisions in four organizations (FAO, WHO, ILO, UNESCO) shows that all IPAs studied can be influential in favorable contexts. When policies are both contested and complex, even IPAs lacking autonomy can influence policy. If either complexity or contestation is absent, however, it is the variant of autonomy of will that helps the IPA exploit procedural strategies of influence. Low autonomy of will, among other factors, explains why IPAs cannot exert influence. Conversely, the variant of autonomy of action appears largely irrelevant. The study provides new insights into the role of bureaucracy beyond the state, exemplifying how research of bureaucratic influence can yield more systematic results in various empirical settings.

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Evidence-Based Policymaking in Times of Acute Crisis : Comparing the Use of Scientific Knowledge in Germany, Switzerland, and Italy

2022, Hadorn, Susanne, Sager, Fritz, Mavrot, Céline, Malandrino, Anna, Ege, Jörn

This article studies how different systems of policy advice are suited to provide relevant knowledge in times of acute crisis. The notion of evidence-based policymaking (EBP) originated in the successful 1997 New Labour program in the United Kingdom to formulate policy based not on ideology but on sound empirical evidence. We provide a brief overview of the history of the concept and the current debates around it. We then outline the main characteristics of the policy advisory systems in Germany, Switzerland, and Italy through which scientific knowledge—in the form of either person-bound expertise or evidence generated through standard scientific processes—was fed into policy formulation processes before the COVID-19 crisis. Whereas EBP takes place in the form of institutionalized advisory bodies and draws on expertise rather than on evidence in Germany, the system in Switzerland focuses more on the use of evidence provided through external mandates. Italy has a hybrid politicized expert system. The article then analyzes how this different prioritization of expertise vs. evidence in the three countries affects policymakers’ capacity to include scientific knowledge in policy decisions in times of acute crisis. The comparison of the three countries implies that countries with policy advisory systems designed to use expertise are better placed to incorporate scientific knowledge into their decisions in times of acute crisis than are countries with policy advisory systems that relied primarily on evidence before the COVID-19 crisis.

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Approaches to Qualitative Comparative Analysis and good practices : A systematic review

2022-09, Thomann, Eva, Ege, Jörn, Paustyan, Ekaterina

The Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) methodology has evolved remarkably in social science research. Simultaneously, the use of QCA too often lags behind methodological recommendations of good practice. Improper use is a serious obstacle for QCA to enrich the social science methodology toolkit. We explore whether the coherence of analytic approaches can help us understand good practices in applied QCA by performing a systematic review of 86 QCA studies. Although adherence to technical GPs has improved over time, we find a high prevalence of incoherent, “hybrid” approaches. As the hybridity of a study increases, its adherence to good practices decreases. The case-oriented, realist, exploratory QCA studies do not consistently follow recommendations of good practice. Instead, the only consistently good-practice approach is case-oriented, realist, but explicitly theory-evaluating. We conclude that consistently aligning methodological choice with the underlying analytic approach and the use of theory can help foster good practices in applied QCA.