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Green Bureaucracy – Knowledge-handling in Environmental Policy

Conference paper
Authors Daniel Bernmar
Published in ECPR Joint Sessions Lisbon 2009
Publication year 2009
Published at School of Public Administration
Language en
Keywords Environmental policy, knowledge, implementation, organization, ambiguites
Subject categories Business Administration, Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies), Public Administration Studies


In sustainable development and environmental policy the importance of a clear and comprehensive policy appraisal is often taken as an essential piece of the puzzle for successful policy outcomes. However, due to the same reason as it is essential it is seldom an easy task to implement incomplete or ambiguous knowledge and in complex contextual situation which might cause problems. This paper focus on the environmental policy in Sweden which is constructed using a “management by objectives and results” strategy. Included in the basic structure of the policy is a comprehensive evaluation and assessment toolkit consisting of several components. Yet very few of the objectives and interim targets set seem to ever be fulfilled. To further develop our understanding of the relation between MBOR, management and the uncertainty or ambiguity of knowledge of complex environmental issues this paper attempts to focus on the implementation of objectives and assessment tool by chief managers working with dissemination, guidance and organising efforts at the regional level. Specifically focusing on how the organisation handles knowledge and what relation knowledge has in translating evaluative efforts and corresponding objectives in practice. The study focus on the County Administrative Boards which is a pivotal actor in implementing and assessing a large part of the Swedish environmental policy. They act as intermediaries, implementers, and co-ordinators of the policy. The results points toward two modes of managing knowledge and objectives in environmental policy which are closely related to mechanisms of coping with uncertainty and ambiguous knowledge. This shows the difficulty in separating knowledge from other analytical dimensions of governance but instead how they have a reciprocal relation and if the policy design focus on a certain concept without giving enough support adapting that mechanism will become the mode of action

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