The consequences of delegation to independent agencies: Separation of powers, discursive governance and the regulation of telecommunications in Germany

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Abstract

Whereas the delegation of regulatory powers is usually examined from the principal's perspective, this article explores the consequences of delegation for the regulatory output. Empirically, it finds that the dissolution of the original German postal authority led to the establishment of a system of divided labour in which different actors, including an (almost) independent regulatory agency, depend on each other's performance of specialized functions. Theoretically, it contributes to the ongoing debate over the role and operation of independent agencies in two main respects. First, based on the modern theory of social systems, it draws attention to the fact that the reform process was characterized by an increased functional differentiation of institutionalized decision-making. Second, drawing on the Habermasian theory of communicative action, it is argued that functional differentiation supports the transformation of interaction from interest-based bargaining to deliberative arguing both in the legislative and the administrative arenas. As political actors are made unable to resort to their power resources, reasons become a key source of influence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-698
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Volume43
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2004

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