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Meeting Expectations in the EU Regulatory State? Regulatory Communications amid Conflicting Institutional Demands

Governance
Public Administration
Regulation
Madalina Busuioc
Departments of Political Science and Public Administration, Universiteit Leiden
Madalina Busuioc
Departments of Political Science and Public Administration, Universiteit Leiden
Dovilė Rimkutė
Departments of Political Science and Public Administration, Universiteit Leiden

Abstract

Accountability, seminal literature teaches us, is about the management of expectations. Reputation suggests that the standards are in the eyes of the beholder. Expectations of different audiences co-exist and can even conflict. What legitimates an organization is a perception of competence of the organization/institution, among multiple audiences “who matter”. Empirically, the paper offers a quantitative analysis of EU regulatory agencies’ formal communications across time. We examine how EU regulatory agencies justify their existence to key institutional audiences: what strategies they deploy to address expectations in their environment, what dimensions of their reputation they emphasise and which audiences/institutional forums’ demands they prioritise in the process and how these vary over time and why. In other words, we trace how EU agencies communicate about their reputations, their attempts to manage clashes in expectations at different levels of governance/among different institutional audiences, how they perceive and respond to external attacks and attempt to shift blame. More broadly, we make a theoretical contribution about the implications of these attempts at self-presentation for the legitimising credentials of the EU regulatory state