This research started with an exploration of the tension between vertical (government) and horizontal (governance). A lot of research has been done about this tension. However, the influence of unwritten rules on the degree of openness in policy development (horizontal) and how to deal with unwritten rules as a policy advisor, has never been a part of it. This study presupposes that the tension vertical-horizontal should be considered as a tension that cannot be changed, but can be dealt with in a clever way. It requires in practice specific coping strategies, which are the core of this research.
The study focuses primarily on policy advisors working in the ministries of Social Affairs & Employment (1), Economy (2) and Education, Culture & Science (3). These are ministries, which perform functions beyond the night watchman state. Kuiper (1992) says about the development of the government:

'The function of the government in the nineteenth century watchman state was limited to defense, maintaining law and order and taking care of the infrastructure (water management and traffic). All other tasks were, in principle, seen as private initiative of individuals and societal connections. During the twentieth century the welfare state developed, in which the government considers itself responsible for the collective social welfare for citizens'
(Kuiper, 1992: 137).

Statements in this study therefore mainly relate to the governmental domain of those 'other duties', although the impression is that the observed findings also relate to the traditional tasks of the night watchman state and other levels of government such as municipal. The empirical evidence however, says something about the way national governments operate that were part of the development of the welfare state.
Unwritten rules, as an expression of ‘vertical’, have been studied with a variant of the method of Scott-Morgan (1995). My research focuses on hard-unwritten rules that are an expression of elements that form the heart of an organizational culture. They are hard to change, not by staff nor by leadership. The many concepts that are mentioned in the literature discussing ‘horizontal policy development’ have been reduced in the study to the variable 'openness' (participation level and degree of exclusion-inclusion).
The premise, that hard-unwritten rules impede openness, has been tested and confirmed. An important additional limitation is that this study focuses on coping strategies which help to get openness in policy development accepted. Not on holding a policy process open, once it has been started.
By making a comparison with other literature, which unwritten rules of the past provides insight, are strong indications that the hard unwritten rules have not changed in recent decades.
This research shows also that policy advisors have opportunities to make openness in policy development possible through dealing smart with the hard unwritten rules. This leads to an open policy paradox:
1. Hard unwritten rules impede openness in policy development.
2. Policy advisors can respect and use the same rules to get openness accepted in the organization.
There are 62 coping strategies found. They help, separately or combined, to respect internal hard unwritten rules' and make openness possible in policy development.

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G.R. Teisman (Geert) , M. Weggeman (Mathieu)
Department of Public Administration

Herold, M. (2017). Omgaan met ongeschreven regels : hoe beleidsambtenaren zélf ruimte kunnen creëren voor openheid in de beleidsontwikkeling. Retrieved from