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

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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 

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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 

Political Innovation, Digitalisation and Public Participation in Party Politics

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Lisa Schmidthuber, Dennis Hilgers and Maximilian Rapp

Public sector institutions increasingly make use of modern information and communication technology to exchange knowledge with stakeholders and involve external actors in decision-making. Public participation has the potential to increase the knowledge base relevant for innovation and continuous improvement in policy-making. It can also enhance the relationship among actors, increase public trust and improve citizen satisfaction. Our recent article in Policy & Politics focuses on public participation in party politics. Specifically, our research focused on a political party which involved citizens in the development of its programme using an online platform.  Continue reading Political Innovation, Digitalisation and Public Participation in Party Politics

How might lower-ranking officials have a greater impact on policy development than previously assumed?

andrew cornellAndrew Connell

How can small-territory, subnational governments make the most of their position? Subnational governments like the devolved governments in the UK combine some of the opportunities and limitations of the national and the local governments between which they sit. They have some ‘national government’-type responsibilities and resources, like legislative authority and funding powers, although those resources are limited by their subordinate status. On the other hand, because their territories are comparatively small (Scotland has just under 5.5 million people and 32 local authorities, Wales just over 3 million and 22) they might able to cultivate ‘local government’-type relationships with a comprehensive range of local groups.    Continue reading How might lower-ranking officials have a greater impact on policy development than previously assumed?

What happens to the public in the era of digital government?

pSzlTFug Sarah Moore

The UK government is currently undertaking a highly ambitious £1 billion court reform programme. The aspiration is for the physical courts of yesteryear  seemingly sluggish, anachronistic, expensive, and paper-bound  to be replaced by a new, virtual court estate. As the 2016 announcement of the court reform programme made clear, the ambition is for all cases to begin online, for some to be carried out entirely online, and for physical court hearings to make more extensive use of video conferencing.  Continue reading What happens to the public in the era of digital government?