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The problem of coordination in defining public policy: a case study of the zero carbon homes agenda in England

Dan Greenwood
University of Westminster
Dan Greenwood
University of Westminster
Open Panel

Abstract

A crucial emerging question in recent research on climate change governance concerns the capacity of different tiers and sectors of governance and policy to achieve coordination in the face of this complex, cross-cutting, or ‘wicked’ policy challenge. This paper reports the findings of a case study of U.K. climate change governance, applying an analytical approach specifically concerned with assessing the ‘coordinative effectiveness’ of governance and policy. Drawing from ‘heterodox’ traditions in economics, particularly the Austrian and Ecological Schools, the analytical focus is on how different actors involved in the political sphere understand and address the often complex, ‘economic’ dimensions of choice which are integral to problems of coordination in governance. ‘Economic’ here is understood in a broad sense which draws from a plurality of criteria, including non-monetary values. This analytical focus, it is argued, can complement and enrich current research methodologies concerned with exploring the interface between governance and sustainable development (Greenwood 2010; 2011). The approach is applied to understanding the challenges for the political sphere of designing policy for sustainable housing in England, an issue involving multiple policy sectors and numerous types of stakeholder. Consideration of the political processes through which policies are formed is combined with detailed analysis comparing how different stakeholders frame the complex economic, as well as technical-scientific, dimensions of the issue. The influence of these different framings on the definition of policy is assessed. This approach, it is argued, with its combined focus on both policy processes and outcomes, can yield insights into the nature and extent of epistemological and incentives-related challenges which characterise the policy process. The potential for future inter-disciplinary and cross-national, comparative extensions of this study is also highlighted. References Greenwood, D (2011) ''The Problem of Coordination in Politics: What Critics of Neoliberalism Can Draw from Its Advocates'' Polity 43(1). Greenwood, D (2010) ''Facing Complexity: Democracy, Expertise and the Discovery Process'' Political Studies 58(4), 769–788.