Making Better Regulation: How Efficient is Consultation?

Morten Jarlbæk Pedersen


Formal consultation when designing new rules and regulations is a commonly used method to ensure regulatory quality. The foundation for this method of involvement is that it allows transparent and open transfer of knowledge from for instance organised interests to government bodies, and that it enables an easier filtering of expert advice from political idiosyncrasies among consultation partners. It is, however, an open question as to whether consultation is in fact efficient in doing so. To investigate that questions, this paper examines the Danish formal consultation system. The study examines response rates and concludes that the Danish consultation system is highly – and perhaps increasingly so – prioritised both in the administration and among consultation partners. However, previous studies have shown that the system has little practical effect on legislation. These two – response rates and amenability – are then coupled to discuss the system’s efficiency. The system’s inefficiency – it demands a lot of energy and priority but has little effect – stress that the main function of the system cannot be said to be its contribution to regulatory quality. Instead, it serves other aims – aims that are not reflected in the system’s design and use. This causes a mismatch between expectations and practice and calls for renewed discussion – both theoretical and practical – on the role of formal consultation systems.


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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

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

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