Blocking and Accepting Steering from Ministers and Departments. Coping Strategies of Agencies in Flanders
This article analyzes the relationships that exist between semi-autonomous agencies, departments and ministers. In theory, agencies have a significant amount of autonomy. However, in practice, this autonomy seems to be hollowed out by both ministers and departments. Politicians no longer are committed to agencification reform in Flanders and attempt to re-centralize. Departments hold a bureaucratic mentality and treat agencies as being lower in rank. However, what emerges from the findings discovered here is that agencies do not accept this passively. Over time, they have developed tactics to ensure their own autonomy. They depict departments as being incompetent and untrustworthy, and even manage to bypass them. Due to the low-level interest of ministers, they manage to shape the reform to their own objectives. These problems can be best described using theories of trust. This analysis suggests that both structural and contextual factors create distrust between agencies, departments and ministers.
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