The Laboratory of Local Governments: Policy innovation at the Interface Between Central Steering and Local Autonomy

Lene Holm Pedersen, Jostein Askim

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch


This paper sets out to analyze and discuss how governments can facilitate policy innovation in a multilevel governance system (MGS)?
This is a central question as central governments have an institutional responsibility for policies, but lack the proximity to practice to generate hands on ideas for new policy interventions. The Nordic Free Commune experiments (FCEs) are an extreme case on policy innovation in a MGS, as they both give room for exceptions from national regulations and are part of a broad centrally coordinated policy program. Hence the institutional frames for innovation are extraordinarily large.

We distinguish two main approaches to programmed policy innovation. The randomized experiment versus the pragmatic and practice oriented approach, and we compare and contrast the approaches and outline their design implications. Based on a comparative analysis of the Free Commune Experiments in the Nordic countries ? past and present ? we discuss stability and change in the design of experiments and evaluations as well as the strengths and weakness of the two approaches and the perspectives for reaching a future synthesis.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
EventThe 16th Annual Conference of the International Research Society for Public Management. IRSPM 2012 - University of Tor Vergata, Rom, Italy
Duration: 11 Apr 201213 Apr 2012
Conference number: 16


ConferenceThe 16th Annual Conference of the International Research Society for Public Management. IRSPM 2012
LocationUniversity of Tor Vergata
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