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Great Expectations of Autonomous Agencies




I defended my dissertation 'Great Expectations of Autonomous Agencies

 on September 30 in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

In this short video, I will walk you through the results of my study (in Dutch; text continues below video)

Semi-autonomous agencies are plentiful and perform many, if not most, public tasks. Think about railway operators, benefits administration, or market regulation.

The wide proliferation of semi-autonomous agencies has fundamentally altered the structure and face of public sectors around the globe. 


While the motives for the creation of semi-autonomous agencies gave rise to great expectations, agencies have not lived up to them. This dissertation shows that if we strive for good performance, solid accountability, and happy citizens and employees, then creating semi-autonomous agencies does not work.

This study compares agencies and sectors across various European countries to evaluate four major expectations. The study finds that public sector performance is lower in countries where a large part of the public sector consists of semi-autonomous agencies. Citizens are not more satisfied, but politicians can use the agencies as scapegoats. Accountability arrangements are often only partially implemented, and staff becomes more dissatisfied as a result of agency creation. The findings are discussed among a panel of 15 Dutch and Flemish experts.


Click for a more extensive summary, or click here for the articles in the dissertation.

Image left: Bill Barber (CC)

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