The More the Better? Rule Growth and Policy Impact from a Macro Perspective

Julian Limberg, Yves Steinebach, Louisa Bayerlein, Christoph Knill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
76 Downloads (Pure)


Do more rules improve overall policy performance? To answer this question, we look at rule growth in the area of environmental policy from an aggregate perspective. We argue that impactful growth in rules crucially depends on implementation capacities. If such capacities are limited, countries are at risk of ‘empty’ rule growth where they lack the ability to implement their ever-growing stock of policies. Hence, rules are a necessary, yet not sufficient condition for achieving sectoral policy objectives. We underpin our argument with an analysis of the impact of a new, encompassing measure of environmental rule growth covering 13 countries from 1980 to 2010. These findings call for ‘sustainable statehood’ where the growth in rules should not outpace the expansion in administrative capacities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438–454
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Early online date27 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • bureaucratic capacity
  • environmental policy
  • policy change
  • policy implementation
  • rule growth


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