Category Archives: Public Policy

Nudge Plus: How behaviour change policies can build on their success by recognizing their failings

Hill and stokerPeter 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

Does privatisation reduce public deficits?

Beatriz and NoemiBeatriz 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?

Looking into the hybrid spaces of public service reform – what are the implications for staff and users?

Bishop & Waring 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?

Do contract characteristics impact on private investment in public-private partnerships? Evidence from China

Wang etalHuanming 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

Narratives as tools for influencing policy change

Crow_JonesDeserai Crow and Michael Jones

Imagine. You are an ecologist. You recently discovered that a chemical that is discharged from a local manufacturing plant is threatening a bird that locals love to watch every spring. Now, imagine that you desperately want your research to be relevant and make a difference to help save these birds. All of your training gives you depth of expertise that few others possess. Your training also gives you the ability to communicate and navigate things such as probabilities, uncertainty, and p-values with ease.

But as NPR’s Robert Krulwich argues, focusing on this very specialized training when you communicate policy problems could lead you in the wrong direction. While being true to the science and best practices of your training, one must also be able to tell a compelling story.  Perhaps combine your scientific findings with the story about the little old ladies who feed the birds in their backyards on spring mornings, emphasizing the beauty and majesty of these avian creatures, their role in the community, and how the toxic chemicals are not just a threat to the birds, but are also a threat to the community’s understanding of itself and its sense of place.  The latest social science is showing that if you tell a good story, your policy communications are likely to be more effective.

This blog is based on our recent article on narrative as a tool for influencing policy change in the 2018 special issue on Practical Lessons from Policy Theories.  Continue reading Narratives as tools for influencing policy change

Mother tongue? Policy language, social enterprise, the UK and Australia

Chris Mason_Michael MoranChris 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