Policy in style

D. Huitema, A.H.L.M. van Snellenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental policy directed at industry is changing course. 'Shared responsibility' and related concepts reflect the idea that industry and government can now work together to solve environmental problems. In our view, this change implies a shift towards a more consensual policy style. This is only warranted if industry meets certain standards of good behaviour and therefore implies adjusting policy style to company behaviour. We assess the possibility of tailoring policy style to the track record of the industries concerned. We do this from two perspectives. From a theoretical perspective, the idea of a deliberate use of policy style is difficult to implement if styles are determined nationally or per policy sector, but such deterministic accounts of policy style are not very credible. From a practical perspective we focus on the level of the interaction between individual officials and firms to obtain a more realistic picture of problems that may arise. To gain further insight, we then examine a new development in the Dutch environmental licence system. The basic idea is that firms with a good record should be treated in a more encouraging or sympathetic manner and enforcement can be less rigorous than at present. Experiences to date with this innovation feed back into both the theory and practice of policy styles. We find that the concept of policy style and the dimensions usually distinguished may need some refinement. For example, the distinction between perceived and intended styles, usually not made in the policy style literature, seems to be relevant. And those who think that the Netherlands provides the ideal conditions for the deliberate use of policy styles will find the Dutch experience contains a warning to others.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)77-98
Number of pages23
JournalEnvironmental politics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • METIS-100220
  • IR-1684

Cite this