Agency fever? Analysis of an international policy fashion

Colin Talbot, C. Pollitt, Karen Bathgate, Janice Caufield, A. Smullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the last 15 years, the governments of many OECD countries have transferred a wide range of functions to new, agency‐type organizations. Allowing for the fact that, for comparative purposes, it is difficult precisely to define agencies, and further acknowledging that in many countries agencies are far from being new, it nevertheless remains the case that there seems to have been a strong fashion for this particular organizational solution.

This article investigates the apparent international convergence towards “agencification.” It seeks to identify the reasons for, and depth of, the trend. It asks to what extent practice has followed rhetoric. The emerging picture is a complex one. On the one hand, there seems to be a widespread belief, derived from a variety of theoretical traditions, that agencification can unleash performance improvements. On the other hand, systematic evidence for some of the hypothetical benefits is very patchy. Furthermore, the diversity of actual practice in different countries has been so great that there must sometimes be considerable doubt as to whether the basic requirements for successful performance management are being met
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research & Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


Dive into the research topics of 'Agency fever? Analysis of an international policy fashion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this