E-petitions have become extremely popular over the last decade. They circulate freely and quickly, with most people at some point having signed one. But there is a perennial question associated with them: what’s the point of e-petitions, do they achieve anything? In my recent Policy & Politics article, I approach this issue by exploring the different roles petitions can play, focusing on petitions to parliament. I show that petitions systems perform roles beyond enabling participation and policy change, depending on the types of processes in place to evaluate them. I demonstrate that the processes through which petitions are considered are crucial in shaping the role(s) they perform. Continue reading Can you make a difference when you sign an e-petition?
Margot Hermus, Arwin van Buuren & Victor Bekkers
The idea that public policies and services are in need of improvement or even innovation is widespread: they need to be more efficient and effective, because of financial pressures, but we also want them to be more responsive and tailor-made to citizens’ needs. One proposed solution is the introduction of design in public administration practice. This means that policies and services are seen as objects that are designed consciously to meet certain goals and/or requirements, rather than changed incrementally or negotiated politically. Thus far, the discussion surrounding design centres on its potential benefit and desirability in a public sector context. However, in our recent article in Policy & Politics, we focused on the unanswered questions regarding the way design is currently used. In what ways is design applied? With what goals? And what types of artefacts are being devised? With these questions in mind, we conducted a systematic literature review looking at applications of design in journal articles published in public administration journals between 1989 and 2016. Continue reading Design in public administration: a typology of approaches
Georges Romme and Albert Meijer
Local, regional and national governments are struggling to find solutions for complex problems such as sustainability, quality of life, and poverty. Public policy researchers are therefore increasingly called upon to help in crafting solutions to these complex challenges. Accordingly, scholars in the field of public policy and administration need to rethink their usual ‘bystander’ approach to designing policy and, instead, engage more in experimentation and interventions that can help change and improve governance systems. Continue reading Design science in public policy and administration research: how to actually apply it?
Jenny M Lewis
Article title: ‘When design meets power: Design thinking, public sector innovation and the politics of policymaking’ (by Jenny M Lewis, Michael McGann and Emma Blomkamp) in the special issue: ‘Improving public policy and administration: exploring the potential of design’.
Governments around the world have been experimenting with ‘design thinking’ approaches to test new policy solutions. In our recent article in Policy & Politics, we argue that policymakers need to learn how to incorporate the insights and practices from design thinking into policy. But designers also need to learn how to deal with the politics of the policy process. If both of these things happen, there should be significant benefits for policy design and all those affected by it. Continue reading What happens when design meets power?
Arwin Van Buuren, Jenny Lewis, Guy Peters, William Voorberg
In recent years, policy makers and administrators have shown increasing interest in design approaches to address policy problems. Design methods offer innovative perspectives on persistent policy problems (e.g. climate change; ageing population; urbanization etc.). Given the enormous influx of design toolboxes, design approaches and design steps, there is a search for an ‘ultimate’ design approach for public sector problems. But there are different approaches that can be used and which have different strengths.
In our introduction to the special issue on design and public policy we distinguish three rather different design approaches in public sector design. Continue reading Introduction to the Special Issue on the potential of design to improve public policy and administration
Lisa Schmidthuber, Dennis Hilgers and Maximilian Rapp
Public sector institutions increasingly make use of modern information and communication technology to exchange knowledge with stakeholders and involve external actors in decision-making. Public participation has the potential to increase the knowledge base relevant for innovation and continuous improvement in policy-making. It can also enhance the relationship among actors, increase public trust and improve citizen satisfaction. Our recent article in Policy & Politics focuses on public participation in party politics. Specifically, our research focused on a political party which involved citizens in the development of its programme using an online platform. Continue reading Political Innovation, Digitalisation and Public Participation in Party Politics
The UK government is currently undertaking a highly ambitious £1 billion court reform programme. The aspiration is for the physical courts of yesteryear — seemingly sluggish, anachronistic, expensive, and paper-bound — to be replaced by a new, virtual court estate. As the 2016 announcement of the court reform programme made clear, the ambition is for all cases to begin online, for some to be carried out entirely online, and for physical court hearings to make more extensive use of video conferencing. Continue reading What happens to the public in the era of digital government?