Challenges of democratic experimentalism: A case study of the National Quality Forum in health care


A. Bryce Hoflund, Center for Public Administration and Policy, Virginia Tech, 104 Draper Road, Blacksburg, VA 24060, USA. Email:


Networks are an increasingly common aspect of administrative life in almost any public policy arena. In health care, networks have emerged in order to address “wicked” quality problems. One such network organization, the National Quality Forum (NQF), was created as a response to the fragmentation and information deficit that have plagued the health care industry’s efforts to improve health care quality. Its purpose is to bring diverse health care stakeholders from the public and private sectors together to discuss and debate quality and performance measurement issues. Democratic experimentalism offers one way of assessing the NQF’s efforts. The purpose of this article is to examine the NQF’s efforts through the lens of democratic experimentalism and to explore some of the virtues and shortcomings of applying a democratic experimentalist approach to health care regulation.