Finding the sweet spot in climate policy: balancing stakeholder engagement with bureaucratic autonomy

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Department of Social Sciences


For several decades, stakeholder engagement in climate change decision-making has been well chronicled. Recently there have been renewed calls for governments to be agents of climate change policy innovation. However, an overlooked actor is the bureaucracy, particularly the degree of autonomy in relation to elected politicians. This paper argues that successful climate change policy will depend on finding the right balance of stakeholder engagement and bureaucratic autonomy, which we label the ‘sweet spot.’ To make this claim, we introduce and discuss recent advances in three areas in the public management literature. First, we discuss how a public value perspective provides a valuable lens to understand why the sweet spot matters. Second, we develop a framework for identifying the sweet spot by building on recent stakeholder and bureaucratic autonomy literature. Third, the role of procedural policy instruments that could potentially facilitate the sweet spot is discussed.

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Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability