05 May 2010

The Usage of Scientific Knowledge by Independent Regulatory Agencies

Lorna Schrefler


The normative justification for delegation to independent regulatory agencies (IRAs) is that they operate by using technical analysis and expertise rather than political considerations in their decision-making processes. Although delegation has been discussed as a design principle, systematic evidence on the conditions under which IRAs make use of scientific knowledge and how is still scarce. Scientific knowledge can be used to achieve instrumental learning, but also to seek legitimacy from the policy environment or to improve the agency’s standing in the political games with the principal. This article will suggest how comparative empirical research can be usefully organized, by enriching delegation and organizational theories with the insights of the literature on knowledge utilization. Drawing on the methodological device of explanatory typologies, the article aims at shedding light on different types of knowledge utilization and the scope conditions that lead to a certain use of knowledge by IRAs.
Published: in Governance, Vol 23, No. 2, pp 309-330, 24 March 2010
Purchase at: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bpl/gove/2010/00000023/00000002/art00007