What is ‘Complex Government’ and what can we do about it?

Now with an updated version of the paper.

Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy

‘Complex government’ relates to many factors:

  • the size and multi-level nature of government
  • the proliferation of rules, regulations and public bodies
  • a crowded arena with blurry boundaries between policymakers and the actors who influence them; and
  • general uncertainty when people interact in unpredictable ways within a changeable policy environment.

Complex government is difficult to understand, control, influence and hold to account.

This brief article considers it from various perspectives: scholars trying to conceptualise it; policymakers trying to control or adapt to it; and, scientists, interest groups and individuals trying to influence it.

Cairney Complex Government 14.5.14 (submitted to a special issue – ‘Complex Government’ – in Public Money and Management)

See also: Key policy theories and concepts in 1000 words.

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3 responses to “What is ‘Complex Government’ and what can we do about it?

  1. Pingback: Life goes on after the Scottish independence referendum | Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy

  2. Pingback: Why does public health policy change? | Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy

  3. Pingback: Now that the SNP dominates Scottish politics, it should it have a vision for Scottish Government | Paul Cairney: Politics & Public Policy

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