Of Technocrats and Believers - Factors Driving Instrument Selection in Complex Transitional Settings

Kammermann, Lorenz; Ingold, Karin (7 September 2017). Of Technocrats and Believers - Factors Driving Instrument Selection in Complex Transitional Settings (Unpublished). In: ECPR General Conference. Oslo. 6 - 9 September 2017.

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n the wake of the COP21 conference in Paris global warming and a transition to an alternative energy supply are as some of the most central issues on the political agenda. In order to achieve the newly formulated goals nation states need to adopt ambitious measures for the development and deployment of low-carbon technologies. Recent studies about renewable energy transitions mostly cover the impact of these policies on the outcome, i.e., the production of renewable electricity or the decrease in carbon emissions. Much less is known about what factors drive the selection and implementation of policy instruments in such transformational settings. In these highly complex situations, measures for the promotion of low-carbon technologies might be added to the policy mix because political actors consider them to be effective and/or efficient. However, policy instruments not only have to fit those criteria they also need to be accepted by the political elite in order to be selected, and by the public to be successfully implemented. This paper explores the nexus between criteria of policy design (e.g., effectiveness or efficiency) and criteria that form the political actor's preferences (e.g., environmental preservation or social justice). We therefore ask what factors drive instrument selection in the context of complex transitional settings? By answering this question, we also try to conceptually clarify what combinations of factors make a 'good' policy mix for the successful transition to more low-carbon technologies. We argue that 'good' policy mixes do not only score high with the technocratic criteria of policy design but that they are also legitimized by the acceptance of political elites and the public. We also expect among others that the relevant criteria for instrument selection depend on the type of actor involved in the policy process.
To answer those questions, we focus on the Swiss case. Federalist Switzerland is interesting for several reasons: first, Switzerland knows a strong climate mitigation policy since the beginning of the 20th century. This might create an overall favorable context for the promotion of a carbon-free energy supply. Additionally, after the Fukushima incident in 2011, the Swiss government decided the nuclear phasing out. This move might give renewable energy supply a particular boost. Third, being a federalist country, the subnational states are the implementing force behind the energy transition. Due to their similarity we can adopt a most similar case design for their comparison. We collected extensive survey data among the political actors in the subnational states that cover their preferences regarding current and potential future instruments enabling a renewable energy transition as well as their political beliefs. The policy design criteria are derived from an in-depth literature review and are validated by policy experts. In order to understand the connections between the before mentioned factors we innovatively combine social network analysis (SNA) with multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA).

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Kammermann, Lorenz, Ingold, Karin Mirjam


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Lorenz Kammermann

Date Deposited:

13 Nov 2017 17:10

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:07



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