Agency Fever? Analysis of an International Policy Fashion

Christopher Pollit, Karen Bathgate, Janice Caulfield, Amanda Smullen, Colin Talbot

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    In the last 15 years, the governments of many OECD countries have transferred a wide range of functions to new, agency-type organizations. Allowing for the fact that, for comparative purposes, it is difficult precisely to define agencies, and further acknowledging that in many countries agencies are far from being new, it nevertheless remains the case that there seems to have been a strong fashion for this particular organizational solution. This article investigates the apparent international convergence towards agencification. It seeks to identify the reasons for, and depth of, the trend. It asks to what extent practice has followed rhetoric. The emerging picture is a complex one. On the one hand, there seems to be a widespread belief, derived from a variety of theoretical traditions, that agencification can unleash performance improvements. On the other hand, systematic evidence for some of the hypothetical benefits is very patchy. Furthermore, the diversity of actual practice in different countries has been so great that there must sometimes be considerable doubt as to whether the basic requirements for successful performance management are being met.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationInstitutions and Governance in Comparative Policy Analysis Studies
    EditorsIris Geva-May, B. Guy Peters and Joselyn Muhleisen
    Place of PublicationNew York
    PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
    ISBN (Print)978-1-138-33274-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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