All posts by policypressblog

New editorial statement for the Policy & Politics journal

P&P 2021 EditorsOscar Berglund, Claire Dunlop and Chris Weible

Policy & Politics is a world-leading journal that provides the primary outlet for scholars and reflexive practitioners to engage with the most pressing governance challenges inhibiting the continued advancement in the study of public policy and its practice. These challenges span the globe and link communities in a common struggle to realise and sustain human dignity and quality of life for all. Moreover, they entail questions about: the impact on governance of political inequality and economic inequality; the implications of such inequalities on political voice and who receives help and who faces barriers from our public policies; how we advance knowledge about public policies comparatively as global phenomena; how we link across macro and micro scales within and between countries in understanding public policy and politics; advancing our theories and methodologies to address these challenges as a policy community; and bringing together a public policy research community that is interconnected globally but also sometimes siloed in distinct approaches and assumptions. Continue reading New editorial statement for the Policy & Politics journal

Policy & Politics: Serving and Enhancing our Metacommunities

Oscar Berglund, Claire Dunlop and Christopher M. Weible

In the study of ecological systems, there is a concept called metacommunities. The idea is that a species might be dispersed in different yet interconnected communities.  These metacommunities might emerge and grow for reasons of fit, space, survival, or chance.  These metacommunities interconnect through some species traversing between them either rarely or habitually. Over time metacommunities might also evolve and adapt to their particular niches. For those who care about supporting ecological systems that might be dispersed in interconnected niches, metacommunities provide a broad language and perspective to help visualize, understand, and govern.

As editors for Policy & Politics, we view this metaphor of metacommunities apt for describing the broadly defined field of public policy, which is dispersed in many communities, each with their own research approaches, lexicons, and traditions.  We also see that some scholars navigate between communities more than others.   In describing academia, we often refer to these metacommunities as silos where some silos are more isolated or connected than others as well as some silos existing within other silos.  Similar to metacommunities, silos might emerge and grow as scholars search for space to develop their ideas, self-sort with others of similar orientations, and more. Continue reading Policy & Politics: Serving and Enhancing our Metacommunities

Merry Christmas from the Policy and Politics co-editors

Merry Christmas from the Policy & Politics team!

Thank you to all our authors, reviewers, board members and friends in the unprecedented year that was 2020 and goodbye from the outgoing editors Sarah Ayres, Steve Martin and Felicity Matthews.

As the outgoing co-editors of this thriving journal, we wanted to express our huge gratitude for the loyalty and commitment that we’ve been fortunate enough to witness from our diverse community of scholars. It has been such a pleasure to steward the journal through the last five years (and in Sarah’s case, eight years) with positive developments too numerous to list. We are most grateful for our meteoric rise to an impact factor of 3.069 and to a consequent rise in ranking from the 3rd to the 1st quartile, which of course is testament to the quality of work published, courtesy of our authors and reviewers. Congratulations to you all!  To celebrate all we have achieved this year we have made our top 10 highly cited articles published in 2020 free to access until 31 January 2021, please see below for the full collection.

So from January 2021, we pass the baton to a new editorial team in whom we have enormous confidence and faith. We will watch with interest the excitement of a new chapter unfolding for the journal as it approaches its 50th year and fully expect to see it go from strength to strength.

We look forward to reading of new exciting advances in the field and to P&P’s continued contribution in communicating those advances to our community and to the broader public.

Policy & Politics Co-Editors: Sarah Ayres, Steve Martin & Felicity Matthews

p&p editors

Top 10 highly cited articles published in 2020 – free to access until 31 January 2021

The role of scientific knowledge in dealing with complex policy problems under conditions of uncertainty
Hanna Ylostalo

Improving public policy and administration: exploring the potential of design
Arwin van Buuren, Jenny M Lewis, B Guy Peters and William Voorberg

Policy windows and multiple streams: an analysis of alcohol pricing policy in England [Open Access]
Benjamin Hawkins and Jim McCambridge

Applying design in public administration: a literature review to explore the state of the art
Margot Hermus, Arwin van Buuren and Victor Bekkers

When design meets power: design thinking, public sector innovation and the politics of policymaking [Open Access]
Jenny M Lewis,  Michael McGann and Emma Blomkamp

What determines the audiences that public service organisations target for reputation management? [Open Access]
Jan Boon,  Koen Verhoest and Jan Wynen

Applying design science in public policy and administration research
A Georges L Romme and Albert Meijer

How do media, political and regulatory agendas influence one another in high risk policy issues?
Alette Eva Opperhuizen,  Erik Hans Klijn and Kim Schouten

Challenges in applying design thinking to public policy: dealing with the varieties of policy formulation and their vicissitudes
Michael Howlett

Designing environments for experimentation, learning and innovation in public policy and governance [Open Access]
Maurits Waardenburg, Martijn Groenleer and Jorrit De Jong 

SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 7 – How nudges can improve the effectiveness of welfare policies

Special issue blog series on advancing our understanding of the politics behind nudge and the ‘behavioural insights’ trend in public policy.

bonvinJean-Michel Bonvin, Emilio Paolo Visintin, Frédéric Varone, Fabrizio Butera, Max Lovey and Emilie Rosenstein

In our recent article in Policy & Politics, we analysed how nudges impact on the effectiveness of welfare policy implementation. The actions and decisions of street-level bureaucrats (SLBs), ie civil servants working directly with the general public, are crucial to the implementation of public policies. Consider for example the crucial role of social workers, teachers, nurses or police officers for our daily life. And of particular relevance to the current coronavirus pandemic: the dedicated engagement of SLBs in emergency units of hospitals, care homes for the elderly and delivering social benefits to unemployed people. Continue reading SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 7 – How nudges can improve the effectiveness of welfare policies

SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 6 – The maturing of Behavioural Public Policy: A constructive proposal

Special issue blog series on advancing our understanding of the politics behind nudge and the ‘behavioural insights’ trend in public policy.

Ewert and LoerBenjamin Ewert and Kathrin Loer

There is a controversial debate going on about using public policy to influence people’s behaviour. The discussion becomes particularly heated when behavioural public policy is accused of being manipulative or opaque. Scholarly thinking on Behavioural Public Policy (BPP) as a relatively new policy concept that has been established in recent years is not neutral but influenced by heuristics and biases. BPP is often equated with “nudge”, a notion that goes back to Thaler’s and Sunstein’s definition of the concept in 2008. Moreover, BPP has not integrated with a range of behavioural sciences but instead has been associated with rather restricted insights from behavioural economics and psychology, by behavioural scientists such as Kahneman, Tversky and Thaler. Indeed the fact that BPP suffers from inherent biases is somewhat ironic since the concept’s main claim is precisely to disclose the heuristics and biases that influence human behaviour and to counteract them by behaviourally informed policy designs. That’s the theory. However, in practice, BPP is pretty much determined by “nudge theory”, a fact that, on the one hand, has contributed to the rapid popularisation of the policy concept but, on the other hand, has constantly fuelled criticisms predominantly about its lack of understanding of how people’s behaviour is influenced by social contexts (e.g. families, communities and place of employment) and triggered by situational effects (e.g. peer-group pressure). Continue reading SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 6 – The maturing of Behavioural Public Policy: A constructive proposal

SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 5 – In times of pandemic crisis and beyond: Moving to an advanced understanding of Behavioural Public Policy and Administration

Special issue blog series on advancing our understanding of the politics behind nudge and the ‘behavioural insights’ trend in public policy.

Benjamin Ewert,  Kathrin Loer and Eva Thomann

Our introductory article with Eva Thomann to the new special issue of Policy & Politics aims to advance our current understanding of Behavioural Public Policy and Administration (BPP/BPA) by moving beyond “nudge”, the iconic but contested synonym for any policies that have been inspired by insights from the behavioural sciences so far. Based on a broad conceptual design and methodological pluralism, we suggest that behavioural policymaking must develop a more nuanced understanding of the interrelations between social structures and individual action in order to effectively tackle more complex policy problems. Continue reading SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 5 – In times of pandemic crisis and beyond: Moving to an advanced understanding of Behavioural Public Policy and Administration

Policy & Politics Highlights collection – all articles included are Open Access

Sarah BrownSarah Brown
Journal Manager, Policy & Politics

This quarter’s collection highlights three of our most popular individual research articles downloaded in 2020. As so often typifies these collections, all the articles featured demonstrate one of the main hallmarks of Policy & Politics in foregrounding the politics of the policy-making process. Continue reading Policy & Politics Highlights collection – all articles included are Open Access

SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 4 – Three top tips for better quality behavioural public policy research

Special issue blog series on advancing our understanding of the politics behind nudge and the ‘behavioural insights’ trend in public policy.

cotterillSarah Cotterill

The quality of the reporting in behavioural public policy research is often poor, making it difficult for the reader to understand what the intervention was or how the research was done. In 2018 a review was published about choice architecture and nudges: behaviour change interventions where the environment or decision-taking context are designed in such a way that people are nudged toward more beneficial options. The review found 156 studies, and reported an excessive amount of bad practice: only two per cent followed a reporting guideline, only seven percent were informed by a power calculation, none of the studies were pre-registered and the descriptions of the interventions were non‐exhaustive, with frequently overlapping categories. The quality of many studies is too poor to allow meta-analysis and the behavioural interventions are not described in sufficient detail to delineate one from another or allow replication. Continue reading SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 4 – Three top tips for better quality behavioural public policy research

SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 3 – Behavioural insights teams in practice: nudge missions and methods on trial

Special issue blog series on advancing our understanding of the politics behind nudge and the ‘behavioural insights’ trend in public policy.

Ball and HeadSarah Ball and Brian W. Head

They go by a variety of names; nudge units, behavioural insights (BI) teams and behavioural economics teams. However, they all owe a debt to the pioneering work of the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) in the United Kingdom (UK). Based on behavioural research on the ‘irrational’ behaviours of citizens and/or policy target audiences, ‘nudge’ instruments have been tested through rigorous research in the form of randomised controlled trials. Using this approach, the BIT UK has had a significant impact on the policy innovation landscape across the globe. Teams have emerged in Europe, the US, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Australia, New Zealand and many more countries.     

Our research recently published in Policy & Politics explores the BI phenomena as it emerged in Australia, from which we derive analysis relevant to global actors and governments engaged BI. In two independent exploratory studies, we sought to understand how such teams actually operate in practice. One study was an in-depth observational study of staff in the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA). The other was an interview-based study of three teams, namely, those operating in two state governments, New South Wales and Victoria, together with the Australian government’s BETA. Continue reading SPECIAL ISSUE BLOG SERIES: Blog 3 – Behavioural insights teams in practice: nudge missions and methods on trial

Updated essential reading recommendations

Updating your course reading lists? Check out our essential reading recommendations for Public Policy, Politics and Social Policy from Policy & Politics.

All articles featured in this blog post are free to access until 31 December or Open Access. 

Oscar Berglund, Digital Associate Editor for Policy & Politics and Lecturer in International Public and Social Policy, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol.

As we embark on a year of online learning, keeping your module reading lists up to date with the latest research has never been more important. We hope to make this easier with the essential reading list below which features some of the most significant research relevant to public policy students that we’ve published over the last year. So here I introduce six articles and two special issues for teaching topical themes such as evidence-based policy, citizens’ assemblies, policy design and behavioural public policy.

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