Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952613 | Print ISBN: 9781412905794 | Online ISBN: 9781412952613| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
In the language of contemporary governance, agencies are independent administrative authorities that participate in running specific parts of economies and societies. More precisely, these bodies undertake analysis and make decisions to regulate economic and social issues for which steering by the “invisible hand” of the market is judged to be either ineffective or inappropriate and where direct governmental intervention is considered undesirable. Indeed, to grasp the importance of agencies within a large number of today's polities, one must first understand their inextricable link with the growth of regulatory public policies. Only then can one begin to tackle the complex set of governance challenges created by the establishment and proliferation of agencies. Although often considered new phenomena, agencies first came into being in the 1870s in the United Kingdom and the United States as a means to referee and encourage economic competition in sectors such as the railways and electricity. During ...