Edited by Christopher Ansell and Jacob Torfing
Chapter 23: Soft and hard governing tools
This chapter provides an overview of the research on soft and hard policy instruments, asking what characterizes these two main types of steering and how they are used by governments today. Hard policy instruments are typically binding (like regular law), while soft instruments are based on voluntary compliance, incorporating measures such as regulatory guidelines, recommendations, objectives, targets and diffusion of information. It is noted that soft forms of governance have become increasingly common over recent decades, reflecting the growing complexity of modern societies and the need of governments to find more open and flexible ways to pursue their goals. The chapter also highlights the ways in which the literature on policy instruments has been enriched in recent years by developments in research areas such as European politics and international relations, where novel forms of soft governance have emerged as a means to coordinate activities between states.
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