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The Diagnostic Tool For Identifying Institutional Barriers In Marine Governance


Report on the development of the diagnostic tool to identify institutional barriers in marine governance

Institutional barriers are critical obstacles to policy implementation. Such barriers hamper the performance of marine policies and may also limit the potential for adapting governance arrangements in order to improve policy performance. Instigating transformation within longstanding governance arrangements is very challenging and is often hampered by institutional barriers such as path dependency, bounded rationality, and institutional inertia.


Addressing institutional barriers is imperative for the effective implementation of the EU Green Deal. The performance of existing governance regimes must, therefore, be evaluated to ensure that they deliver on current policy, to understand their capacity to implement new policies and to identify institutional barriers that may impede effective policy implementation and adaptation. While there is an emerging literature on identifying these barriers, very little research has been conducted on developing and implementing solutions to them. The PERMAGOV project will go beyond the state-of-the-art by developing an in-depth understanding of these and other institutional barriers in different case studies and co-develop collaborative marine governance strategies that overcome them and improve the performance of marine policies. To develop an in-depth understanding of institutional barriers, PERMAGOV will develop an institutional barrier diagnostic tool.


This deliverable (D3.2) describes PERMAGOV’s process of co-developing a simple diagnostic tool for identifying institutional barriers in practice. The tool builds on the systematic literature review, reported in Deliverable 3.1. To turn the literature review into a usable diagnostic tool we co-developed an approach with end-users, experts and stakeholders to simplify how institutional barriers are described and to make it easier to identify and analyse them in our case studies. Building on the previous research (Oberlack 2017) the systematic review identified 11 institutional attributes which may give rise to institutional barriers: actor eligibility; actor roles and responsibilities; actor control; actor accountability; actor connectivity; conflict mechanisms; development and use of knowledge; scale of institutions; rigidity of institutions; formality of institutions; and institutionalized incentives.


These attributes are best understood as components of the governance system where barriers may occur. Tracing barriers back to specific institutional attributes is key to our diagnostic approach. For example, institutional inertia might arise due to the rigidity of an institution, making it difficult to adapt to new issues or situations, or it might arise due to actors exerting control over an institution to preserve the status quo. Building on these 11 institutional attributes we developed simple descriptions of the types of barriers that might arise in each component. The simplified descriptions were tested and refined through a) end-user consultations, where they also provided real-world examples to illustrate these barriers, and b) feedback received at a stakeholder workshop. A final diagnostic table was co-produced, which will be used in each case to identify and diagnose institutional barriers.





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PERMAGOV has received funding from the European Union's Horizon Europe research and innovation programme HORIZON-CL6-2022-GOVERNANCE-01-03 under grant agreement No 101086297, and by UK Research and Innovation under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee grant numbers 10045993, 10062097, 101086297.

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