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The paper analyses the processes of central government coordination in Denmark, Germany and Sweden. First it gives an account of the existing coordination patterns, second it analyses changes within these coordination patterns over time and finally it asks, whether these changes can be attributed to an intentional institutional design. To answer this set of questions, we introduce an institutional policy analytic perspective to the study of central government change. This perspective focuses on central actors, interests, strategic motivations and the degree of the actors` reflexivity as a promoter of intentional institutional change in government coordination.
The empirical analysis shows the prevalence of negative coordination as the dominant pattern of coordination in all three countries. However, country-specific constitutional and political traditions result in a variety of different coordination techniques actually used. The paper concludes by identifying three different patterns of change, depending on the degree of change and the reflexivity involved : “fragmented institutional politics” in Denmark, “policy-driven institutional politics” in Germany and “adaptive and symbolic institutional politics” in the case of Sweden.