Belief Systems and the Emergence of Advocacy Coalitions in Nascent Subsystems: A Case Study of the European GNSS Program Galileo

By Bandelow, Nils C.; Kundolf, Stefan | German Policy Studies, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Belief Systems and the Emergence of Advocacy Coalitions in Nascent Subsystems: A Case Study of the European GNSS Program Galileo


Bandelow, Nils C., Kundolf, Stefan, German Policy Studies


1 Introduction

Galileo is a program to establish a European global navigation satellite system (GNSS) which should allow the European breakthrough in satellite-supported navigation and detection (Weyer 2008). It started in 1995 with the pilot project EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service). EGNOS consists of tracking stations and was put into operation in 2009.

Galileo is aimed at enabling the independence of Europe from other GNSS systems like the American GPS (Global Positioning System) and the Russian GLONASS (Globalnaja Nawigazionnaja Sputnikowaja Sistema). It should also lead to far-reaching economic effects for Europe and win considerable shares in the worldwide, lucrative market for GNSS applications. The project dates back to the late 1990s and was originally planned to come into operation in 2008. However, in the course of the project delays arose, and the original timetable could not be kept. Currently 2013 is expected to be the earliest start.

The project is not only unique because of its technological challenge. It is also the first intensive cooperation of the European Community (EC) and the European Space Agency (ESA). Another peculiarity is the extensive participation of private actors at the funding of Galileo. The public-private partnership (PPP) became an important foundation of the project.

In 2007 the PPP failed and Galileo underwent a fundamental governance change. Even though there have been some descriptions of this change (Smith 2008; European Court of Auditors 2009) it still lacks explanations of this long-term development.

This paper analyzes the Galileo project using the lens of the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) developed by Paul A. Sabatier and others (Sabatier/Jenkins-Smith 1993; Sabatier/Weible 2007; Weible/Pattinson/Sabatier 2010). The central aim of this paper is to contribute to this discussion as the nascent subsystem Galileo is a case study that delivers evidence concerning the emergence of belief systems and advocacy coalitions and contributing to the understanding of long-term policy change. Thereby this paper on the first view resembles the conditions of another case study questioning the applicability of the ACF to a young subsystem in a volatile context (Beverwijk/Goedebgebuure/Huisman 2008). However, while Bevewijk and her colleagues study Mozambican higher education policy the regional context of the Galileo case is the OECD world.

This paper is organized as follows: The following part discusses if the Galileo case meets the preconditions to use the ACF as a theoretical lens. After presenting hypotheses and methods (chapter 3) the empirical part of this paper describes the development of the Galileo program which is the empirical explanandum (chapter 4). The fifth chapter applies the ACF hypotheses concerning advocacy coalitions to the special situation of the nascent and transnational subsystem Galileo. Afterwards selected hypotheses concerning policy change, power shift, and learning are applied to the case study. The conclusion discusses the evidence of the case study for the foundations and hypotheses of the ACF and names challenges for future research.

2 Galileo as an appropriate case to apply the ACF

The Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) has been developed by US American scholars to establish an analytical perspective for explaining long-term policy change. It is based on several assumptions that have been modified in different presentations of the framework. The ACF itself also has been amended several times on the basis of new empirical and theoretical information.

There are however three major preconditions of the ACF that are at least necessary - and probably also sufficient - for using the framework (see for example Sabatier/Weible 2007: 192-198). First of all the ACF assumes that policies are negotiated in policy subsystems. Criterions for subsystems are the existence of specified actors and the relevance of these actors for the formulation of policies. …

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