The dynamic role of governments in adopting policy innovations in China

Huang & WiebrechtBiao Huang and Felix Wiebrecht

Policy innovations and experiments have been considered a cornerstone of China’s economic rise in the past decades. However, the adoption of innovations by local governments is not always mandated by the central government, as one may expect in the case of a strong, centralised, and authoritarian state like China. Instead, higher-level governments often take a laissez-faire approach and merely sponsor some innovations without actively getting involved in the process of adoption. In our recent article in Policy & Politics, we aim to answer the question of why higher-level governments intervene proactively in local innovations in some cases but only offer their backing in others. Continue reading

Can community involvement policies mitigate NIMBYism and local opposition to asylum seeker centres?

Dekker et alRianne Dekker, Caroline Oliver & Karin Geuijen

When numbers of refugees seeking asylum increase, local governments are prompted to open new asylum seeker centres (ASCs). This happened for example during the European ‘refugee crisis’ of 2015-16, and more recently, with increasing numbers of people fleeing Afghanistan. Decisions to open facilities such as ASCs often inspire opposition which local governments must navigate. This is the issue we explore in our recent article in Policy & Politics where we ask: Can community involvement policies mitigate NIMBYism and local opposition to asylum seeker centres?

Usually, governments assume that opposition to a facility is fueled by NIMBYism, where residents object to a facility’s local siting but would not object if it was opened elsewhere. They adopt strategies to isolate the facility from its locality, to prevent possible negative impacts. However, in many cases, local opposition has deeper roots than NIMBYism and requires a different policy approach. Continue reading

How do Street-Level Bureaucrats categorise citizens to decide who should receive services?

Lotta and KirschbaumGabriela Lotta and Charles Kirschbaum 

Street-level bureaucrats (SLB) are those workers who have direct contact with citizens while delivering services to them, for example teachers, police, counsellors, and health workers. They are very important both for the state and for citizens for several reasons. for example, they are the “face” of the state for many citizens, they are the “last mile” individuals in the policy implementation process and in the hierarchy of the organisation, and they also have significant power to allocate resources. Consequently many research studies, including ours, analyse street-level bureaucrats’ behaviour and how they interact with citizens. In our recent research article in Policy & Politics on How street-level bureaucrats use Conceptual Systems to categorise clients, we observe one specific aspect of SLBs’ work: how they classify types of citizens to decide who should receive each kind of service. We analyse this phenomenon by observing teachers. Continue reading

Blog from the winner of our Policy & Politics 2021 postgraduate student prize for achieving the highest overall mark on the ‘Power, Politics and the Policy Process’ unit of the Masters in Public Policy at the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol

Doug CooleyDoug Cooley

I’m Doug Cooley, and have just finished a one-year Masters in Public Policy at the University of Bristol, home to the Policy & Politics journal. I hope to use this MPP as a basis to conduct future academic or practical policy work. During the year, I have focussed my research on various theoretical concepts, including policy transfer, and power structures in the policy process, applying these concepts to neoliberal mechanisms in the Global Financial System, and to the UK’s local governance structures. I am delighted to have won the Policy & Politics prize for achieving the highest overall mark on the unit ‘Power, Politics and the Policy Process’ as part of the MPP programme.

In this post, I highlight a piece of my work which explores the link between policy transfer, which I define as replication of policy instruments between polities, and institutional isomorphism, or the convergence of organisational structures and governance mechanisms. The relative lack of literature on the link is surprising, given how intuitively similar these ideas are, and the different normative connotations of the two concepts. Policy transfer emphasises the benefits of learning between polities, whereas institutional isomorphism is seen as a constraining influence on innovation. Continue reading