When Reform Politicians Eliminate the Goods of other Political Actors. The Case of the Danish Regions

Simon Krogh


This paper describes the consequences of institutional reforms when these encounter opposition by other political actors. Within the rational institutionalism paradigm, Fritz W. Scharpf has argued that a utility-maximizing actor will violate the norms of formal institutions if the expected gains from breaching institutional arrangements exceed the expected costs of institutional adherence. The theory of the rule-violating actor is tested on the case of the Danish reform of public administration, where 14 counties were consolidated into five regional units, which operate under a new governance structure. Under this new governance structure the regional councilors’ opportunity to pursue substantial and institutional goods is reduced. The hypothesis therefore, is that the regional councilors will violate the institutional norms in order to be better positioned to pursue both substantial and institutional goods. The analysis tends to support Scharpf’s rule-violating theory. The Danish regional councilors violate the stipulation by making cosmetic changes in the mandates in order to continue the work and by ensuring that the “continuing committees” contain the same councilor members as in the preceding year. Regardless of this permanentization the regions attempt to keep the committees temporary in order to ensure that the councilors are financial compensated.

Full Text: PDF

Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413