Agnes Batory & Sara Svensson
Involving people in policy-making is generally a good thing. Policy-makers themselves often pay at least lip-service to the importance of giving citizens a say. In the academic literature, participatory governance has been, with some exaggeration, almost universally hailed as a panacea to all ills in Western democracies. In particular, it is advocated as a way to remedy the alienation of voters from politicians who seem to be oblivious to the concerns of the common man and woman, with an ensuing decline in public trust in government. Representation by political parties is ridden with problems, so the argument goes, and in any case it is overly focused on the act of voting in elections – a one-off event once every few years which limits citizens’ ability to control the policy agenda. On the other hand, various forms of public participation are expected to educate citizens, help develop a civic culture, and boost the legitimacy of decision-making. Consequently, practices to ensure that citizens can provide direct input into policy-making are to be welcomed on both pragmatic and normative grounds. Continue reading How not to conduct a consultation – and why asking the public is not always such a great idea
Pau Alarcón, Carol Galais, Joan Font and Graham Smith
The economic crisis has led to challenges across a whole host of policy areas. But what has been its effect on citizen participation in political decision making?
When we think about the pros and cons of citizen involvement in political decision-making, questions arise about competence and motivation. On the one hand, there is the question of the competence of citizens in making well-considered decisions. On the other hand, will politicians implement or ignore citizens’ proposals? Continue reading When austerity knocks, what happens to public participation?
Peter John and Gerry Stoker
Policies that promote behaviour change are not so controversial as we move towards the third decade of the twenty first century. The question that matters now is how to ensure that behaviour change policies work and match an increasingly assertive democratic culture among citizens. Our solution is to build on past successes and to move towards something we label “nudge plus”. Continue reading Nudge Plus: How behaviour change policies can build on their success by recognizing their failings
Beatriz Cuadrado-Ballesteros and Noemí Peña-Miguel
Privatisation may be defined as the sale of shares of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to private investors, resulting in the transference of the property and the decision-making capability from the public to the private sector. Privatisations have always been controversial reforms, from the first ones developed by the Thatcher government in 1979, until now, when the Troika has pushed through privatisation programmes in EU member states that suffered financial problems during the last crisis. Continue reading Does privatisation reduce public deficits?
My name is Oli, I am currently studying for a BSc Social Policy (2nd year). I am passionate about issues surrounding inclusion and access in higher education, as well as contemporary challenges facing the welfare state.
I was delighted and surprised to receive the award for the ‘Best Undergraduate Public Policy student essay’. It has given me real confidence in my written voice and ability to comment on policy debates.
In brief, my essay reflects on the relative merits of choice and voice as mechanisms for improving policy outcomes and public service quality. My reading led me to be fairly critical of both mechanisms. Instead, I argue that more privileged social groups are better placed to exercise choice and to make their voice heard. Overall, I advocate voice mechanisms, drawing on the potential of participatory innovations to improve policy outcomes for the greatest number of people. Continue reading Winner of our 2019 BSc Social Policy essay prize on Understanding Public Policy
Simon Bishop and Justin Waring
Cutting ribbons on gleaming new buildings, politicians have long sought to bolster their public image through association with new facilities developed as the flagships of public service reform. ‘Out with the old and in with the new’ is the clearly intended message. But beyond rhetoric of ‘cutting edge design’ and ‘state of the art working’, there is very rarely any deeper conversations of how new buildings affect the lives of the employees and members of the public who use them daily. Even within more detailed deliberations over new facilities by planners and service managers, the focus tends to be on how new spaces are going to work functionally – cost, technical and ergonomic features of building projects are the predominant concerns. Continue reading Looking into the hybrid spaces of public service reform – what are the implications for staff and users?
Huanming Wang, Bin Chen, Wei Xiong and Guangdong Wu
Over the past three decades, many developed and developing countries have witnessed the increasing provision of public goods and services through private firms. With the New Public Management movement, state monopolies in many infrastructure sectors have been relaxed and privatization has been utilized as an alternative way of delivering public services. Private-capital investment has been allowed to build, operate and maintain components of the infrastructure through various types of cooperation between the public and private sectors. As a result, public-private partnerships (PPPs) have become a prominent part of the local government landscape. Advocates have emphasized the advantages of private investment in PPP infrastructure projects: enhanced efficiency, cost savings, improved effectiveness, better quality of services, and reduced government overheads.
Continue reading Do contract characteristics impact on private investment in public-private partnerships? Evidence from China