The ‘multiple streams approach’ (MSA) is one of policy scholarship’s biggest successes. Kingdon’s original is one the highest cited books in policy studies, and there is a thriving programme of empirical application and theoretical refinement.
Yet, I argue that its success is built on shaky foundations because its alleged strength – its flexible metaphor of streams and windows of opportunity – is actually its weakness. Most scholars describe MSA superficially, fail to articulate the meaning of its metaphor, do not engage with state of the art developments, and struggle to apply its concepts systematically to empirical research. These limitations create an acute scientific problem: most scholars apply MSA without connecting it to a coherent research agenda.
In my recent article in Policy & Politics, I seek to solve this problem in three ways. Continue reading Three habits of successful policy entrepreneurs
Christopher M. Weible and Paul Cairney
In this Special Issue of Policy & Politics, we issue a challenge to policy theory scholars to change the way they produce and communicate research: translate your findings to a wider audience to garner feedback on gauge their clarity and quality.
Policy theories have generated widespread knowledge of the policy process, but the field is vast and uncoordinated, and too many scholars write and speak with so much jargon that ideas become obfuscated, hardly understandable to other scholars, and beyond the interests of people outside of academia. As scholars, we often assume, rather than demonstrate, that our ideas convincingly make sense to people beyond our narrow academic circles and that policy process research contains insights that add cumulative and comparable knowledge to practice and the field. Continue reading Introduction to the 2018 special issue on Practical Lessons from Policy Theories
Christopher M. Weible and Paul Cairney
Introducing our 2018 Policy & Politics special issue on Practical Lessons from Policy Theories, published in April now available online and in print. (Free to access online until 31 May)
Professors Christopher. M. Weible from the University of Colorado, Denver and Paul Cairney from the University of Stirling talk in the video below about their motivation for producing a special issue on drawing practical lessons from policy theories, and why their subject is so important. Continue reading Introducing our 2018 Policy & Politics special issue on Practical Lessons from Policy Theories
Sarah Ayres, Steve Martin and Felicity Matthews, co-editors of Policy & Politics
We are delighted to announce that the winners of our Ken Young prize for the best paper published in 2017 are Selen Ercan, Carolyn Hendriks and John Boswell for their article on Studying public deliberation after the systemic turn: the crucial role for interpretive research (free to access until 24 May 2018).
In this excellent article, the authors seek to make sense of the complex nature of deliberation and the complexity of deliberative democratic systems. In doing so, they bring together two hitherto separate strands of literature – the empirical turn and the systemtic turn – which have previously ‘pulled in different directions.’ In seeking to bring the two turns together, the authors highlight a number of important methodological questions. They ask: ‘how can we identify and portray the sites, agents and discursive elements that comprise a deliberative system, how can we study connections and transmissions across different sites of a deliberative system, and how can we understand the impact of the broader socio- political context on both specific deliberative sites and the entire deliberative system?’ Continue reading Policy & Politics announces the 2018 winners of the Best Paper prize and best Early Career paper prize published in 2017
In their efforts to professionalize, contemporary governments have embraced the idea of evidence-based policy. They draw legitimacy from science, basing their ideas for new policies on ‘what works’. A particular wave of evidence-based thinking that is very vivid at the moment is ‘Behavioural Insights’. This is the subject of my recent research article in Policy & Politics entitled: Brokering Behaviour Change: The Work of Behavioural Insights Experts in Government. Continue reading Making policy in the era of Nudge
Chris Mason and Michael Moran
Social enterprise has emerged as an important vehicle of public sector reform globally but has received particular attention from policymakers in ‘liberal regimes’ such as the UK and Australia.
In our recent Policy & Politics article we set out to understand why two similar policy contexts – loosely-shared political cultures, institutional arrangements and importantly a common language – ended up engaging differently with a common policy idea, social enterprise.
To do so, we developed a unique policy data set constructed around social enterprise as it applied to a broad range of policy fields – from health and social care to resourcing the non-profit and voluntary sector – and policy initiatives. Continue reading Mother tongue? Policy language, social enterprise, the UK and Australia
Huanming Wang, Rui Mu and Shuyan Liu
Since the late 1970s, governments in many countries have adopted privatisation reforms, including contracting-out public services, transferring functions and responsibilities to the private sectors, and selling enterprises to private interests. The practice of privatisation in some developing countries has led to the problem of unequal treatment. For instance, many local governments in China outsourced their public services (e.g. public bus services, water supply and waste disposal services) to private companies. This included the delegation of operations entirely to these private entities. Government subsidies were allocated to the private operators, but these subsidies could not cover the full costs incurred by those private operators.. In this context, the private operators had to concentrate their services in densely populated areas and neglect the needs of more sparsely populated areas, resulting in the inadequate provision of services in the latter areas. As a result of this, some local governments withdrew from these privatised arrangements in order to ensure a more equal provision of services.
Our recent Policy & Politics article explores whether and to what extent privatisation and its reversal influence public service equity in China. Our paper focuses on public bus services in China, the provision of which has been subject to both privatisation and subsequent re-nationalisation, and draws upon an extensive programme of research that covered 245 cities. The Coefficient of Variation (CV) method was used to measure equity, and the multiple-regression method was adopted to test the relationship between privatisation and equity. Continue reading Has privatisation influenced public service equity? Evidence from China