Design in public administration: a typology of approaches

hermus et al pic.pngMargot Hermus, Arwin van Buuren & Victor Bekkers  

The idea that public policies and services are in need of improvement or even innovation is widespread: they need to be more efficient and effective, because of financial pressures, but we also want them to be more responsive and tailor-made to citizens’ needs. One proposed solution is the introduction of design in public administration practice. This means that policies and services are seen as objects that are designed consciously to meet certain goals and/or requirements, rather than changed incrementally or negotiated politically. Thus far, the discussion surrounding design centres on its potential benefit and desirability in a public sector context. However, in our recent article in Policy & Politics, we focused on the unanswered questions regarding the way design is currently used. In what ways is design applied? With what goals? And what types of artefacts are being devised? With these questions in mind, we conducted a systematic literature review looking at applications of design in journal articles published in public administration journals between 1989 and 2016.   Continue reading Design in public administration: a typology of approaches

Design science in public policy and administration research: how to actually apply it?

romme & meijer.pngGeorges Romme and Albert Meijer

Local, regional and national governments are struggling to find solutions for complex problems such as sustainability, quality of life, and poverty. Public policy researchers are therefore increasingly called upon to help in crafting solutions to these complex challenges. Accordingly, scholars in the field of public policy and administration need to rethink their usual ‘bystander’ approach to designing policy and, instead, engage more in experimentation and interventions that can help change and improve governance systems.   Continue reading Design science in public policy and administration research: how to actually apply it?

What happens when design meets power?

Jenny LewisJenny M Lewis

Article title: ‘When design meets power: Design thinking, public sector innovation and the politics of policymaking’ (by Jenny M Lewis, Michael McGann and Emma Blomkamp) in the special issue: Improving public policy and administration: exploring the potential of design’.

Governments around the world have been experimenting with ‘design thinking’ approaches to test new policy solutions. In our recent article in Policy & Politics, we argue that policymakers need to learn how to incorporate the insights and practices from design thinking into policy. But designers also need to learn how to deal with the politics of the policy process. If both of these things happen, there should be significant benefits for policy design and all those affected by it.   Continue reading What happens when design meets power?

Introduction to the Special Issue on the potential of design to improve public policy and administration

special issue p&P editors.png

 

 

 

 

Arwin Van Buuren, Jenny Lewis, Guy Peters, William Voorberg

In recent years, policy makers and administrators have shown increasing interest in design approaches to address policy problems. Design methods offer innovative perspectives on persistent policy problems (e.g. climate change; ageing population; urbanization etc.). Given the enormous influx of design toolboxes, design approaches and design steps, there is a search for an ultimate design approach for public sector problems. But there are different approaches that can be used and which have different strengths. 

In our introduction to the special issue on design and public policy we distinguish three rather different design approaches in public sector design  Continue reading Introduction to the Special Issue on the potential of design to improve public policy and administration

Policy & Politics Winter Highlights collection free to access from 6 November 2019– 31st January 2020.

Sarah BrownSarah Brown,
Journal Manager of Policy & Politics

In celebration of this year’s APPAM research conference theme on diverse perspectives on issues and evidence, we bring you our latest research on that topic. To read the original research, download the articles below which are free to access until 31st January 2020. Happy reading! Continue reading Policy & Politics Winter Highlights collection free to access from 6 November 2019– 31st January 2020.

Local Government by Lottery?

joseph drew p&P blogJoseph Drew

One constantly hears the slogan that local government is closest to the people and thus serves the people best.

But is it really close to the people and which people does it serve?

When did you last attend a council meeting? When did you last feel that you had a direct voice in a local government decision that affects your life? Do you know the name of your Councillor? Did your Mayor keep their election promise – did you even know what the promise was?

The truth of the matter is that most of us will answer negatively to all of these questions. That’s probably why most of us grumble about ‘crazy’ local government decisions but stand impotently by as the same group of Councillors are returned at the elections every few years.   Continue reading Local Government by Lottery?

Understanding reputational concerns within government agencies 

p&p blog

Kristoffer Kolltveit, Rune Karlsen & Jostein Askim

Employees in public agencies constantly need to think about how the outside world looks at them. According to bureaucratic reputation theory, public agencies face a complex web of reputational concerns regarding how they are perceived by multiple audiences who prioritise different dimensions of their work. For instance, public agencies are judged by critical media reports, a range of demanding users of public services, politicians and so on. A strong reputation is important, so building maintaining and protecting their reputation is important for generating public support, as well as facilitating their own autonomy and discretion from political interference. However, the existing bureaucratic reputation literature has overlooked the fact that employees might possess multiple social identities that could also affect their motivations, as well as the possibility that the employees might seek to protect the reputations of other government bodies which they hold feel committed to. In our recent Policy and Politics article, we draw on social identity theory to argue that employees are not only concerned about the reputation of the agency for which they work, but also about other actors in the political–administrative system; for example, the ministry to which they belong or the cabinet they serve. We argue that these distinct reputational concerns can have both individual and organisational explanations. For instance, employees in senior positions will emphasise their organisation more than employees in lower positions, because it is their organisational attributions that they identify most closely with. In a similar vein, employees with work experience from their parent ministry will emphasise the ministry more than employees without such experience, because of early socialization processes.   Continue reading Understanding reputational concerns within government agencies