Category Archives: News

Improving policy implementation through collaborative policymaking

Torfing Sorensen AnsellChristopher Ansell, Eva Sørensen and Jacob Torfing

An extended version of this blog post was originally published on the Discover Society blog.

Implementation problems defined by the failure to turn public policies into practice and deliver the intended results and effects are pervasive and highlighted by the new focus on performance measurement. Public decision-makers spend a lot of time and energy creating public policies and then leave policy implementation to public administrators. However, numerous studies have shown that there is often a considerable gap between the planned outputs and outcomes of public policy and what actually occurs. The failure to deliver public policies is highly problematic as it undermines the governing capacity of democratically elected politicians and tends to leave societal problems unsolved.

While the traditional implementation theories primarily have located the obstacles to policy implementation either in the long-stretched administrative implementation chains, the coping strategies advanced by street-level bureaucrats or recalcitrant target groups, we propose that implementation problems are rooted in bad policy designs. Public policies are often flawed and ill-conceived, making them impossible to implement for even the most skilled and motivated public administrators. The problem is not merely that the policy makers suffer from cognitive limitations in the sense that they lack evidence that the new program theory will work or that they fail to anticipate implementation problems such as lack of skills and insufficient budget allocations. In most cases, the policy implementation problem goes much deeper as it is rooted in the failure to align problems, solutions, actors and resources and integrate local knowledge about the conditions on the ground.

In our recent Policy & Politics article, we argue that policy designs can be improved through collaboration between upstream and downstream actors, including elected politicians, public managers, service providers, user groups and relevant interest organizations and advocacy groups.  Multi-actor collaboration based on deliberation tends to bring forth relevant knowledge, stimulate processes of mutual learning and build joint ownership over the new solutions. Since the implementation of well-crafted policy designs cannot be ensured through traditional top-down implementation based on command and control, the collaboration design process should be extended in order to enable the adaptation of the initial policy design to better reflect local conditions and emerging problems and challenges. As such, policy design should be seen as an ongoing process that flexibly adapts as implementation challenges unfold.

Taking a more collaborative approach to designing and flexibly adapting public policies tends to blur the sharp lines of demarcation between design and execution, top and bottom and public and private. Moreover, it helps us realize that implementation problems are not solved by managerial ploys aiming to clarify and communicate the policy objectives, plan the implementation process, evaluate performance and reward high performers/punish low performers. As such, the core of our argument is that the New Public Management agenda fails to address the heart of the so-called ‘policy execution problems’. More relevant solutions toperennial implementation problems are predicated on the new ideas of innovation, collaboration and resource mobilization set out by the New Public Governance perspective.

In sum, our article offers a new solution on a classical problem: the failure to implement public policy. Instead of further pursuing the idea that the new managerialism will close the gap between planned and actual policy outputs and outcomes, we advocate the idea of collaborative policy design and flexible adaptation to emerging problems and challenges. Our argument is based on a theoretical rapprochement between established implementation theories and the new theories of collaborative governance and aims to open a new line of research.

 

If you enjoyed this blog, take a look at Governance and the media: exploring the linkages

Policy & Politics at ECPR 2017

Representatives from the Policy & Politics journal team are delighted to be attending the 2017 General Conference of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) in Oslo from 6-8 September.

Please look out for our representatives around the conference to discuss any relevant articles you are planning to publish. They are:

Ayres

Sarah Ayres, Academic Co-Editor

 

 

 

 

Brown Sarah Brown, Journal Manager

 

 

 

 

Many of our Editorial Board members are attending too so do approach them if you want to get their views on the journal as a potential publication outlet. They are Nikolaos Zahariadis, Associate Editor for North America and Editorial Advisory Board members Eva Sorenson, Isabelle Engeli & Richard Simmons.

With such incredible variety and impressive quality across the 72 panels and 1,881 papers being presented at the conference, we are looking forward to meeting and discussing research ideas with many of you.

The Policy & Politics exhibition stand is located in the exhibitors’ hall in the Eilert Sundts hus alongside our publisher Policy Press, so please do stop by to find out more about the journal. We’ll look forward to seeing you.

Sarah Brown, Journal Manager

If you enjoyed this blog you may also enjoy top tips on how to get published in Policy & Politics

Policy & Politics talking innovative governance and the governance of change at the International Conference on Public Policy, Singapore 2017

Lain Dare, Paul Fawcett & Diane Stone

Policy and Politics was delighted to sponsor a panel session on Innovative governance and the governance of changat the Third International Conference on Public Policy (Singapore, 28-30 June 2017). The panel was organised by Dr Lain Dare, Dr Paul Fawcett and Professor Diane Stone, all based at the Institute of Governance and Policy Analysis, University of Canberra. Paul is on the Policy and Politics Advisory board, and Diane is Consultant Editor. The eleven papers, spread over three panels, explored themes such as ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ policy, time and policy, multi-level policymaking, informal governance, political metagovernance, and transformative governance. Many papers also spoke about the challenges presented by rapid social and economic change, technological innovation and transboundary policy problems. As such, all of the papers engaged with the journal’s hallmarks of relating the micro to the meso and macro (and vice versa) by addressing the link between polity, policy and politics. 

Fawcett

Paul Fawcett, Policy & Politics Associate Editor for Australasia, with Hendrik Wagenaar & colleague

Continue reading Policy & Politics talking innovative governance and the governance of change at the International Conference on Public Policy, Singapore 2017

Language revitalisation in an age of social transformation

Huw Lewis & Elin Royles

By Huw Lewis and Elin Royles, Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University.

This post was originally published in Discover Society on 2 August 2017.

Currently, the Welsh Government is in the process of finalising the content of its new national Welsh language strategy. This new strategy, a successor to A living language: A language for living, published back in 2012, will outline the government’s vision for Welsh for the next 20 years. Given the Welsh Labour 2016 manifesto commitment of creating a million Welsh speakers by 2050, the strategy is likely to be an important document setting a series of key long-term goals. Meanwhile, up in Scotland, Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the official body tasked by the Scottish Government to promote the Gaelic language, recently concluded a process of consulting on the contents of its new National Gaelic Language Plan, the third to be published since 2005.

Continue reading Language revitalisation in an age of social transformation

Why do we need a Fiscal Centred Perspective on Welfare State Development?

michal koreh_daniel beland

By Michal Koreh (Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Haifa) and Daniel Béland (Professor and Canada Research Chair in Public Policy, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy)

This post was originally published in Discover Society on 5th July 2017.

Welfare state scholarship needs a fiscal centred perspective because focusing attention on the imperatives and interests related to the fiscal, revenue side of social programmes can shed new light on the historical and contemporary politics of social policy. This is particularly the case with programmes like social insurance that are directly involved in the extraction of revenues and that, in some countries, collect more revenues than personal income taxes.

In our recent Policy & Politics article titled ‘Reconsidering the Fiscal-Social Policy Nexus: The Case of Social Insurance’, we lay the foundations for such a fiscal-centred perspective. We bring together several bodies of theoretical literature situated beyond the conventional boundaries of welfare state research and combine their insights to suggest two interlocking claims. The first is that social insurance systems financed by payroll contributions can be used by state and non-state actors to advance their fiscal and economic goals beyond the financing of social benefits and services. The second claim is that, through mechanisms such as legitimacy production, institutional design, and coalition building, the design and management of social insurance contribution policies for such fiscal purposes can have substantial ramifications for the development of social programmes. Continue reading Why do we need a Fiscal Centred Perspective on Welfare State Development?

What kind of democracy is this? Scholars must look beyond the populist signal

MFlinders-new-smallMatt Flinders reflects on the changing nature of democratic politics and asks whether a focus upon all things ‘post’ – post-Trump, post-Brexit, post-truth, post-democratic, etc. – has prevented scholars and social commentators from looking beyond or beneath the populist signal.

This blog post was originally published on the LSE British Politics and Policy blog.

Although there is no doubt that we live in ‘interesting times’, I cannot help but think that there is something incredibly boring, possibly even myopic, about most of the political analysis that is surrounding recent events. A clichéd sameness, defined by narratives of impending democratic doom, wrapped-up in notions of ‘crisis’, ‘disaster’, ‘hatred’, and ‘death’ that tend to flow into (and out of) dominant interpretations of post-Trump, post-Brexit, post-truth, post-democratic politics. The contemporary democratic debate is arguably cocooned within its own intellectual echo chamber that specialises in problem identification but falls short in terms of a more vibrant brand of design-orientated, solution-focused political science. Continue reading What kind of democracy is this? Scholars must look beyond the populist signal

Expertise and policies: How to take advantage of multilevel systems to develop policy solutions

 

 

Foto Mavrot Foto Sager

By Céline Mavrot (Researcher at the KPM Center for Public Management of the University of Bern) and Fritz Sager (Professor of Political Science at the KPM Center for Public Management of the University of Bern).

This post was originally published on Discover Society on 6th June 2017.

Against the backdrop of the current US-American presidency, the Brexit referendum campaign and the decision of the Hungarian government to drive its university of highest repute – the Central European University – out of the country, the fake news epidemic and the related question of the relationship between scientific evidence and democracy are all over the academic agenda. Scientific evidence generally is expected to make policies more coherent: addressing the right target groups, increasing the efficiency of their implementation and increasing their effectiveness. In her recent blog on the subject, Caroline Schlaufer goes beyond this functionalist view of scientific evidence and argues that the use of scientific evidence has also been found to improve democratic debates: Evidence-based arguments make democratic campaigns more rational. Informed citizens are reluctant to attack opponents on a personal basis which increases the deliberative quality of the discourse. However, this is not all. As we argue in our recent article in Policy & Politics, the use of evidence can encourage coherent policy formulation over different tiers in federal systems by creating vertical networks of expertise.

Continue reading Expertise and policies: How to take advantage of multilevel systems to develop policy solutions