The Roles of Government Officials as Policy Entrepreneurs in Consensus Building Process

The Roles of Government Officials as Policy Entrepreneurs in Consensus Building Process
Kim, Dong-Young
Government agency; policy entrepreneur; consensus building
Issue Date
Series/Report no.
KDI Working Paper Series;06-15
Looking at the three efforts to resolve public disputes over diesel passenger cars and urban air quality management in South Korea, this paper explores the main obstacles in nascent democracies to meeting the necessary conditions for successful dispute resolution prescribed by Western scholars of consensus-building theory and practice. The first two cases did not resolve the disputes, even though they produced a consensus agreement through deliberation. The agreements were challenged and adjusted through regulatory processes. This type of unstable consensus building is regarded as one of pathologies of consensus building efforts in regulatory decision-making. This paper analyzes why this problem happened, with the new analytic framework, which incorporates Kingdon’s multiple stream framework and the theory of consensus building. This paper found that the final dispute resolution was made in conventional politics stream by adversarial power game in politics rather than in consensus building stream. Most cases did not have necessary factors for successful consensus building effort. Most of all, the first two consensus building efforts were strategically initiated by policy entrepreneurs, who were not neutral in managing many other necessary factors of successful consensus building. As a result, the efforts of dispute resolution were actually the processes of conflict expansion rather than the authentic consensus building efforts. Non-neutral deployment of consensus building efforts was manifested in idiosyncratic features of policy process and politics in South Korea. Policy entrepreneurs strategic motives were a reaction to the unbalanced representation of weak environmental rationales in the existing policy making process of multi-level policymaking venues. Thus, main obstacles to successful consensus building in nascent democracies exist in institutional levels, which play against the neutral initiation of consensus building efforts. One way to secure the neutrality is to develop a new type of entrepreneurs, so-called ‘consensus-building entrepreneurs.’
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