theory building; policy analysis; comparative analysis; Blame avoidance
HinterleitnerMarkus, SagerFritz (2020), Governing elites under pressure: Blame avoidance strategies and welfare state retrenchment, in Careja Romana, Emmenegger Patrick, Giger Nathalie (ed.), Springer VS, Wiesbaden, 109-122.
Hinterleitner Markus (2019), Salami tactics and the implementation of large-scale public projects, in Journal of European Public Policy
, 26(11), 1696-1714.
Hinterleitner Markus, Sager Fritz (2017), Anticipatory and Reactive Forms of Blame Avoidance: Of Foxes and Lions, in European Political Science Review
, 9(4), 587-606.
Sager Fritz, Ingold Karin, Balthasar Andreas (2017), Blame Avoidance, in Sager Fritz, Ingold Karin, Balthasar Andreas (ed.), NZZ Libro, Zürich, 222-229.
Hinterleitner Markus (2017), Policy Failures, Blame Games, and Changes to Policy Practice, in Journal of Public Policy
Hinterleitner Markus, Sager Fritz (2015), Avoiding Blame—A Comprehensive Framework and the Australian Home Insulation Program Fiasco, in Policy Studies Journal
, (1), 139-161.
Hinterleitner Markus (2015), Reconciling Perspectives on Blame Avoidance Behavior, in Political Studies Review
Hinterleitner Markus, Sager Fritz, Blame, reputation and organizational responses to a politicized climate, in Bach Tobias, Wegrich Kai (ed.), Palgrave Macmillan, London.
Hinterleitner Markus, Sager Fritz, Krisenmanagement und Risikovermeidung, in Ritz Adrian, Haldemann Theo, Sager Fritz (ed.), NZZ Libro, Zürich.
HinterleitnerMarkus, Policy Controversies and Political Blame Games
, Cambridge University Press, New York.
Blame avoidance behavior (BAB) displayed by public officials is a complex phenomenon. Rather than being a consistently defined term, BAB is generally regarded as all kinds of integrity-protecting activities by politicians and bureaucrats in the face of (future) accusations. The planned research project rests on the assumption that the question which predominantly justifies the scientific interest in the various facets of BAB - if and how this phenomenon influences the adoption of policies and damages the workings of political systems - has not yet been sufficiently answered. In the political science and public policy literature, three related and generally acknowledged deficits of blame avoidance research are held responsible for this: An unconsolidated base of knowledge spread over numerous disciplines; a neglect of contextual factors; and insufficient production of findings that can be generalized. In this project, we aim to address these challenges and accommodate the complexity of BAB by proposing a three-step approach: Based on the actor-centered institutionalism (ACI) heuristic by Mayntz and Scharpf (1995; Scharpf 1997), analytical categories relevant for the comprehensive analysis of BAB and its consequences are developed. Drawing on these analytical categories and their respective interrelations, existing research on BAB can be assessed and structured. The arrangement of analytical categories acts as a ‘vessel’ in which extant work can be situated and blind spots become evident. The result of this undertaking is a preliminary framework that allows for the systematic assessment of various cases of BAB in a context-sensitive way. The framework is intended to facilitate comparative research and thereby help to come to more generalized findings. Arguably, systematic context-sensitive cross-case analysis of BAB will foster our understanding of the impact of this kind of behavior on the policy process and on the workings of political systems in general.In our research plan, we first outline three specific but interrelated and widely-acknowledged deficits of blame avoidance research, which, taken together, represent the main challenge for the study of BAB. Based on these deficits, a preliminary framework able to address each of these deficits in turn is derived. The preliminary framework serves as the conceptual basis for the planned research project.Our research design consists of the analysis of 15 - 20 purposively selected blame avoidance cases in Western democratic political systems. The comparative research design based on our preliminary framework allows us to comparatively assess the relative influence of (non-) institutional factors on the processes, outcomes and consequences of BAB. With regard to method, we combine in-depth case study research with scientific methods able to handle middle-sized numbers of cases and compare them in a context-sensitive way, such as Qualitative Comparative Analysis. Both the significant number of analyzed cases as well as their systematic context-sensitive comparison are novel contributions to the existing literature and will contribute significantly to the study of public political behavior. The relevance of this research project is twofold: First, it will create a uniquely rich set of data on blame avoidance in western democracies, advance the understanding of the processes, outcomes, and consequences of BAB, and produce a refined and consolidated framework that significantly advances the theoretical understanding of BAB and allows to exploit all the streams of scholarship relevant to understand this phenomenon in its entirety. Second, we expect our findings to contribute to a more nuanced and realistic understanding of the political process, not only on part of the scientific community, but also on part of the general public.