The ombudsman model has travelled extensively since its inception in Sweden at the beginning of the 19th century. Whilst the establishment of ombudsman schemes reflected similar constitutional innovation around the world, the factors specific to socio-political environment have implications for design and evolution of individual applications of the model, and as a result for how their effectiveness and legitimacy can be understood.
Research into the influence of socio-political environment within which ombudsmen operate has been lacking. Additionally, research to date has focused predominantly on individual ombudsmen and comparative approaches have been scarce.
This project will seek to address this situation by identifying and comparing the enivornmental factors that influence ombudsmen legitimacy and effectiveness. The concept of multi-level governance will provide a framework for comparison of these factors across sub-state, state and supra-state level.
The research questions could include: what specific factors influence on ombudsman design and practice in a given environment? To what extent are the initial roles and operating practices adapted? What similarities, differences and interdependencies can be observed across levels of governance? What are the forces for convergence and divergence and can either be interpreted as dominant? And what are the implications for how their effectiveness and legitimacy of ombudsman is understood?
With proliferation of sub-state Commissioner schemes and established ombudsmen on state level the devolved UK offers an enticing selection of possible case studies to consider in this investigation. The analysis of European Ombudsman will allow to further extend the comparison to supra-state dimension.