Mechanisms of Conflict Management in EU Regulatory Policy

34 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 26 Aug 2009

See all articles by Burkard Eberlein

Burkard Eberlein

York University - Schulich School of Business

Claudio M. Radaelli

University of Exeter

Date Written: 2009


In this conceptual article we explore mechanisms of conflict management in European Union (EU) regulatory policy-making. We build on J.G. March’s distinction between aggregation and transformation as the two strategic options to deal with inconsistent preferences or identities that are at the source of social conflict. While this distinction is helpful in mapping conflict management mechanisms, the rigid association of these two options with the rival paradigms of rationalism and constructivism respectively has led political scientists to neglect conflict management strategies that work at the edges of aggregation and transformation. We show the potential of these latter strategies as intelligent ‘in-action’ hybrids that emerge from ground-level policy-making praxis of actors navigating a complex institutional and policy environment. Specifically, we discuss five strategies: issue-based aggregation, arena-based aggregation, (arena-shifting and arena-creation), socialization, re-framing, and proceduralization, their underlying mechanisms and related scope conditions. The theoretical implications of this discussion lead us towards ‘strategic constructivism’. In the most interesting conflict management mechanisms, norms and ideational structures matter, but they are related to strategic actors that draw on and orchestrate ‘ideas’ in pursuit of political goals.

Keywords: European Union, regulation, conflict management, proceduralization, ideational politics

Suggested Citation

Eberlein, Burkard and Radaelli, Claudio M., Mechanisms of Conflict Management in EU Regulatory Policy (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Public Administration, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Burkard Eberlein (Contact Author)

York University - Schulich School of Business ( email )

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3

Claudio M. Radaelli

University of Exeter

Northcote House
The Queen's Drive
Exeter, Devon EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom

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