Networking for resources: how regulators use networks to compensate for lower staff levels

Francesca Pia Vantaggiato (University of California, Davis)

How do EU member states’ regulatory agencies cope with their broad portfolio of tasks when their resources are scarce? In her article “Networking for resources: how regulators use networks to compensate for lower staff levels” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Francesca Pia Vantaggiato argues that less well-resourced regulators turn to their informal networks with counterparts in other EU member states to source the necessary expertise to accomplish their tasks. Since the maintenance of networks involves costs, Francesca Pia expects regulatory agencies with intermediate levels of resources to benefit most from informal networking with their peers. Drawing on data from a survey of EU member states’ energy regulators fielded in 2015 and 2016, she finds evidence supporting her claim that it is predominantly agencies with access to moderate levels of resources engaging in network activism. Francesca Pia’s analysis highlights the benefits of national regulators’ embeddedness in the EU: Interdependence within the EU facilitates ties to well-resourced regulators in other member states, suggesting that European regulatory networks “have a consistent impact on improving European regulatory policy and practice via the national level.”

Institutional amnesia and public policy

Alastair Stark (University of Queensland) & Brian Head (University of Queensland)

We may believe that there is an inherent value in experimenting with policy reforms: Even in the unfortunate event of a policy not delivering its promised benefits, policy-makers have learned a lesson that would allow them to turn future initiatives into a success story. Alastair Stark and Brian Head warn that such optimistic views on ‘organizational learning’ omit the reality of ‘organizational forgetting’. In their article “Institutional amnesia and public policy” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Alastair and Brian present evidence from interviews with 100 senior policy practitioners from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to highlight that policy-makers themselves consider institutional amnesia as a serious concern undermining the performance of public administrations. Alastair and Brian offer a multi-dimensional operationalization of institutional amnesia, hypothesise how amnesia affects various fields of policy-making, and discuss how its detrimental effects can be mitigated. Acknowledging that a concern about organizational forgetting has fallen through the cracks of scholarly interest before, Alastair and Brian emphasize that “remedies for memory-loss will only be found once policy scholars realize what policy practitioners already know – that we cannot afford to keep forgetting about institutional amnesia.”