Comparing the role of boundary organizations in the governance of climate change in three EU member states

Robert Hoppe, Anna Wesselink

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36 Citations (Scopus)


A plethora of institutional forms has emerged whose remit is to link climate change science to policy-making. These can be understood as boundary arrangements where science and politics meet and intertwine; when formalized these may be referred to as boundary organizations. This article examines boundary organizations and their role in climate change governance in three EU member states: Germany (FRG), United Kingdom (UK) and the Netherlands (NL). A multi-level conceptual framework and tentative causal model steer the comparison. It demonstrates how context at the political-cultural and problem governance levels is crucial to understanding the operation and impact of boundary organizations. We find that the climate change policy issue is generally treated as a moderately structured problem with goal agreement. However, given this problem structure, ‘climate change’ is framed differently: as primarily economic (UK) or environmental (FRG) or in between (NL), and as primarily mitigation (UK, FRG) or adaptation (NL). In all countries, but in FRG and the NL more than in UK, climate change issue politics is split in two sub-arenas: one ‘environmental’ (to do with adaptation), the other ‘economic’ (to do with mitigation and/or energy transition). National boundary arrangements are more (FRG, NL) or less (UK) stable over time, between bureaucratic-cum-advocacy and technocracy-cum-learning in all three countries, depending on policy domain, policy stage and political context at the time. They in turn sit within national political-cultural spheres that we characterize as, for this policy issue, primarily corporatist (NL), personalized and meritocratic (UK), and corporatist veering towards consensual (FRG). The multilevel conceptual framework for mapping boundary arrangements and detecting causal patterns therefore serves to satisfactorily describe, compare and explain national differences in expert advice on climate change policy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-85
JournalEnvironmental science & policy
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • METIS-304817
  • IR-91633

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