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Procedural Tools for Effective Governance (PROTEGO) Patterns, Outcomes and Policy Design Procedural Tools for Effective Growth: Patterns, Outcomes and policy Design

Periodic Reporting for period 5 - PROTEGO (Procedural Tools for Effective Governance (PROTEGO) Patterns, Outcomes and Policy DesignProcedural Tools for Effective Growth: Patterns, Outcomes and policy Design)

Reporting period: 2020-09-01 to 2022-02-28

The European Union and its Member States have invested in open, evidence-based procedures to improve on the life-cycle of laws and regulations. Implicit in these reforms, ranging from the introduction of freedom of information acts to the so-called Better Regulation tools, is the belief that improvements in rule-making procedures will impact on the quality of rules, and that better rules will create a better business environment, reduce corruption, and contribute to sustainability. However, although studies on these procedural reforms provide findings on their diffusion and how the reforms were implemented, little is known about the impact on economic outcomes and governance. “Regulation matters” justifies political attention for regulation. And yet, how it matters precisely is less known.

PROTEGO proceeds from a fundamental testable claim: combinations of procedural regulatory instruments have causal effects on governance. In particular, we test expectations about the effects of combinations of instruments on doing business, perceptions of corruption, and specific dimensions of sustainability. In turn, the performance on these three outcomes may affect trust in government – this is our final testable claim.
Empirically, this research programme has collected, validated and analysed original data across the EU’s 27 Member States and the UK for the period 2000-¬2015. The original dataset covers consultation procedures, freedom of information, the Ombudsman, and regulatory impact assessment of proposed primary and secondary legislation. We also collected qualitative information on the broader administrative law framework and judicial review in the 28 cases.
Protego found an approach that allows to consider all the regulatory policy instruments covered by our project with a single measurement template. This approach draws on the institutional grammar tool (IGT) of Elinor Ostrom, specifically the concept of rule-types. We created different pilots of how Ostrom's approach could be transformed into a single measurement template – this emerged as the Protego Protocols for data collection. The same Protocol applies to all procedures, thus avoiding idiosyncratic distortions. We have also commissioned one background protocol per country (based on open-ended questions) covering general and constitutional principles of administrative action and transparency. In total, we hired 38 lawyers short-term to fill in the Protocols, trained them, and validated their work.
In the final part of the project we concentrated on data analysis and dissemination. Our findings show the presence of different causal chains leading from combinations of our four regulatory policy instruments to ease of doing business, perceptions of corruption, and dimensions of sustainability. The results on the causal effects on trust in government are less clear, showing that rule-making (as far as it is captured by our four instruments) may not have a direct effect on trust.

We informed the scholarly debate with a string of publications, including some in the world-leading journals of public administration, public policy and more generally political science (Policy Studies Journal and Journal of European Public Policy). Radaelli and co-authors Dunlop, Kamkhaji, Taffoni and Wagemann are under contract to complete a research monograph to appear in gold open-access format for Oxford University Press in 2023. The scientific communities benefitted from the presentation of the project and its findings at the most important international political science conferences. A major dissemination effort was the sponsorship of the biannual conference of the ECPR Standing Group on Regulation & Governance convened at the University of Exeter. This is the most important world-wide conference on regulation, assembling (in virtual mode given the pandemic) political scientists, lawyers and policy-makers. Policy-makers, students and public different from university researchers benefitted from an intense programme of tailor-made training.
Empirically, Protego has generated a new dataset based on a robust theorization. The dataset covers four administrative procedures that are key to rule-making. Conceptually, the measurement approach has been informed by the institutional grammar tool (IGT) created by Nobel-prize winner Elinor Ostrom and Sue Crawford. This approach is at the cutting-edge of theories of the policy process.
Methodologically, Protego draws on Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). The choice of a set-theoretic approach implies an original understanding of causation. In terms of findings, QCA shows the presence of various configurational pathways which in turn respond to the different regulatory cultures and institutions we find across Europe. In doing this, our analysis provides a step-change in the discussion of instrument design.

Understanding that the technique is sophisticated, we communicated our methods in various ways, from scientific articles to blog posts, book chapters, participation to conferences, teaching, and executive training. Our suggestions for the design of instruments are granular: the findings pin down the specific features of consultation, freedom of information, the Ombudsman and regulatory impact assessment that matter for each of the outcomes, and whether these features apply to certain countries in our population whilst other features are causally relevant for other countries. We have therefore granular suggestions for groups of countries on specific features of policy instruments rather than one-size-fits-all recommendations
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