Belief systems and the emergence of advocacy coalitions in nascent subsystems: a case study of the European GNSS program Galileo.

VerfasserBandelow, Nils C.

1 Introduction

Galileo is a program to establish a European global navigation satellite system (GNSS) which should allow the European breakthrough in satellite-supported navigation and detection (Weyer 2008). It started in 1995 with the pilot project EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service). EGNOS consists of tracking stations and was put into operation in 2009.

Galileo is aimed at enabling the independence of Europe from other GNSS systems like the American GPS (Global Positioning System) and the Russian GLONASS (Globalnaja Nawigazionnaja Sputnikowaja Sistema). It should also lead to far-reaching economic effects for Europe and win considerable shares in the worldwide, lucrative market for GNSS applications. The project dates back to the late 1990s and was originally planned to come into operation in 2008. However, in the course of the project delays arose, and the original timetable could not be kept. Currently 2013 is expected to be the earliest start.

The project is not only unique because of its technological challenge. It is also the first intensive cooperation of the European Community (EC) and the European Space Agency (ESA). Another peculiarity is the extensive participation of private actors at the funding of Galileo. The public-private partnership (PPP) became an important foundation of the project.

In 2007 the PPP failed and Galileo underwent a fundamental governance change. Even though there have been some descriptions of this change (Smith 2008; European Court of Auditors 2009) it still lacks explanations of this long-term development.

This paper analyzes the Galileo project using the lens of the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) developed by Paul A. Sabatier and others (Sabatier/Jenkins-Smith 1993; Sabatier/Weible 2007; Weible/Pattinson/Sabatier 2010). The central aim of this paper is to contribute to this discussion as the nascent subsystem Galileo is a case study that delivers evidence concerning the emergence of belief systems and advocacy coalitions and contributing to the understanding of long-term policy change. Thereby this paper on the first view resembles the conditions of another case study questioning the applicability of the ACF to a young subsystem in a volatile context (Beverwijk/Goedebgebuure/Huisman 2008). However, while Bevewijk and her colleagues study Mozambican higher education policy the regional context of the Galileo case is the OECD world.

This paper is organized as follows: The following part discusses if the Galileo case meets the preconditions to use the ACF as a theoretical lens. After presenting hypotheses and methods (chapter 3) the empirical part of this paper describes the development of the Galileo program which is the empirical explanandum (chapter 4). The fifth chapter applies the ACF hypotheses concerning advocacy coalitions to the special situation of the nascent and transnational subsystem Galileo. Afterwards selected hypotheses concerning policy change, power shift, and learning are applied to the case study. The conclusion discusses the evidence of the case study for the foundations and hypotheses of the ACF and names challenges for future research.

2 Galileo as an appropriate case to apply the ACF

The Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) has been developed by US American scholars to establish an analytical perspective for explaining long-term policy change. It is based on several assumptions that have been modified in different presentations of the framework. The ACF itself also has been amended several times on the basis of new empirical and theoretical information.

There are however three major preconditions of the ACF that are at least necessary - and probably also sufficient - for using the framework (see for example Sabatier/Weible 2007: 192-198). First of all the ACF assumes that policies are negotiated in policy subsystems. Criterions for subsystems are the existence of specified actors and the relevance of these actors for the formulation of policies. The regular conferences of experts within the Galileo program prove the existence of actors from politics, economy, science and technology involved in this issue.

In contrast to traditional internal policies like employment, health, pensions, or taxes, the Galileo program lacks specific institutions to frame the policy process. Therefore it cannot apparently be assumed to be negotiated within a subsystem. The ACF, however, defines subsystems less by institutional criterions than by policy arenas though. It thereby introduces peculiarities that focus research to specific aspects of the policy process.

As a first peculiarity the ACFs definition does not relate subsystems to the boarders of states. The original ACF does not demand a national limitation of policy processes but requires geographical boundaries. So the ACF can be applied to policies like Galileo that have been produced in transnational networks instead of a stable institutional environment.

Furthermore, the ACF definition of subsystems demands a long-term perspective. By applying this to Galileo one has to see the program as an enduring issue rather than a single project. Galileo is not limited in time as it is intended to have an enduring operational phase. The time perspective leads us to the second peculiarity: Galileo only started officially in 1998/99, even though first discussions can be traced back to the program EGNOS in 1995. So our case represents a nascent subsystem that enables us not only to analyze the procedures within a subsystem (like most other ACF applications) but also the formation of a subsystem.

To focus on policy subsystems as defined by the ACF implies that specialists instead of generalists dominate the policy process. This idea was originally founded by the US American federal presidential system that built the background of the framework. The American political system is relatively fragmented and therefore policies are regularly decided within "iron triangles" or other networks that only include specialists. European parliamentary systems, on the contrary, decide major policies within partypolitical arenas that are dominated by generalists. As the Galileo case is not decided within a parliamentarian system it makes sense to assume a dominant role of specialists as assumed by the ACF. The technical complexity of the issue might also contribute to the dominance of specialists over generalists.

The subsystem perspective furthermore implies the involvement of different types of actors. The ACF does not only focus on genuine political actors or solely on academics for example. If policies are decided by political actors solely, research could apply a theoretical lens that is based on political rationality (for example on the rational goal to win elections).

In the same way one could reject the ACF in cases with opposite conditions: If there is a dominance of a coherent group of scientists that are confronted with indecisive politicians the ACF might be a less appropriate lens compared to the perspective of Epistemic Communities (Haas 1992). The idea of Epistemic Communities stresses the possibility that political decision makers might be influenced largely by scientists under certain conditions: (1.) The politicians to a large degree lack undisputed information, which hampers them in finding solutions themselves, and (2.) there is a powerful scientific coalition that includes (at least nearly) all leading experts. Appropriate conditions can be found in the field of climate change for example. However, the Galileo program lacks the existence of a single leading epistemic community. Therefore we expect to find evidence for policy-oriented learning through scientific information without expecting the dominance of scientists over politicians. In other words: Epistemic Communities might contribute to the understanding of future developments of the Galileo program. Up to now we need another lens that does not require scientific homogeneity. The plurality of actors involved in the Galileo case and the lack of a single Epistemic Community legitimize the focus on policy subsystems.

The second foundation of the ACF can be described as biased perception. Contrary to rational choice approaches the ACF not only focuses on the situation of actors to explain perceptions and policy goals but assumes that stable core beliefs explain the different behavior of actors in similar situations. Core beliefs have a broad scope and are unlikely to change over time. Secondary aspects have a narrower range and are much more likely to change due to new information. This assumption of hierarchical belief systems is especially useful for analyzing cases that are affected by different interpretations of information.

Originally, Sabatier and his colleagues applied belief systems to environmental policies to explain different behavior of the competing actors. The Galileo project also seems to be an appropriate case for assuming belief systems: The benefits and costs of the project can be seen in very different dimensions (for example in economic, political or technical areas).

The third foundation of the ACF assumes that actors within subsystems join their forces within advocacy coalitions, even though this name-giving foundation of the ACF has not been named explicitly in a recent presentation of the framework (Weible/Sabatier/McQueen: 122). Advocacy coalitions are stable networks of actors with similar core beliefs that coordinate their strategies. The creation, development and structure of advocacy coalitions belong to the major topics of the hypotheses presented by the ACF (Sabatier/Weible 2007 220). The assumption of advocacy coalitions has been challenged however, as it conflicts with the rational choice hypothesis of coalition building by rational individuals (Olson 1965; Schlager 1995). Up to now the state of the art still lacks empirical verification of the ACF's claim and of the rational choice critics. The...

Um weiterzulesen


VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT