Publication Type:



Policy Sciences, Springer Verlag, Volume 49, Issue 1, p.35-53 (2016)



Call Number:




Soft Law


The aim of this paper is to understand in which direction policies change in periods of crisis. Do they lead to the hardening of norms or the introduction of softer rules governing public policies? Based on the study of policy change in two periods of economic governance – the 2003/2005 Stability and Growth Pact crisis, and the 2009-2013 economic governance crisis, this article explains why the policy change in the first case led to softer governance mechanisms, while during the second crisis, soft governance mechanisms were transformed into hard law. In applying the Multiple Streams Framework (MSF) to study these policy changes, we argue that the wider the window of opportunity and the more coherent the coalition of policy entrepreneurs, the higher the possibility for these actors to push in favour of legally constraining norms. Hence it is not solely the power or capacity of one policy entrepreneur, in this case – the German government – that leads to hardening of soft law, but the coherence of the coalition the policy entrepreneur is able to build.


Humanities and Social Sciences/Political scienceJournal articles

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