Expert Authority

… a core concept used in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101

Concept description

Grace Skogstad (reference below) describes expert authority as “an alternative to state-centred authority” where the authority of experts “is recognized as desirable and appropriate when their superior knowledge promises to deliver valued policy outcomes.”

She writes:

“When good decisions depend upon expertise, and society broadly agrees on the criteria for distinguishing desirable from undesirable outcomes, rule-making and standard setting by non-elected officials is often preferred to leaving decision making in the hands of politicians. …

“Expert authority is strengthened by economic and political globalization. Neo-liberalism, the ideology that underwrites globalization, seeks to limit politicians’ capacity to implement barriers to the flow of goods, services and capital across borders. Technical experts allied to international institutions are the chosen “authority”to assist with this objective. Scientific, legal and economic experts develop standards in technical areas that are then incorporated into international codes and agreements…”

See Skogstad’s Four Competing Models of Authority.

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Policy Instruments and Design (core topic) in Policy Analysis and Process and Atlas101 Policy Analysis and Process.


Grace Skogstad (2003), “Who Governs? Who Should Govern? Political Authority and Legitimacy in Canada in the Twenty-First Century.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 36(5): 955-974.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 4 September 2018.

Image: Engage321, at, accessed 4 September 2018.