Tag Archives: policy failure

What Do We Know About How Policies Spread?

MallinsonDaniel J. Mallinson

Since the 1960s, political scientists from across the globe have been studying how and why policies spread. This substantial body of research begs the question, what have we learned? My project aims to answer that question, at least in part. It finds both substantial growth in the literature and gaps that remain to be filled.

I conducted a meta-review of policy diffusion studies that focus on the American states. By casting a wide net using Google Scholar and Web of Science, I identified all (to my knowledge) studies published between 1990 and 2018 that referred to “policy diffusion” and “berry and berry.” Berry and Berry are important because their 1990 study of state lotteries introduced the unified model of policy diffusion. Essentially, this model combined the internal characteristics of states with influences external to the states to explain policy adoption. Over time, scholars also recognized that the attributes of the policy innovations themselves condition how far and how quickly they spread. Continue reading What Do We Know About How Policies Spread?

1st May – 31st July 2021 highlights collection on policy diffusion

Sarah_Brown_credit_Evelyn_Sturdy
Image credit: Evelyn Sturdy at Unsplash

Sarah Brown
Journal Manager, Policy & Politics

This quarter’s highlights collection focusses on the popular theme of policy diffusion, bringing new analyses offering fresh perspectives on this extensive area of scholarship.

In our first featured article on policy diffusion, Daniel Mallinson continues his efforts in offering the most comprehensive analysis to date on how policy innovation diffuses across American states. Although hundreds of articles have tackled the fundamental question of why innovative policies spread, none has fully grappled with the scope of their disparate results.

To fill that gap, this article presents a state-of-the-art systematic review and meta-analysis of how policy innovation flows from US state to US state and the average effects of commonly used variables in the study of policy diffusion. In doing so, it highlights important biases in the research and makes recommendations for addressing those biases and increasing international collaboration on policy innovation research and results. Continue reading 1st May – 31st July 2021 highlights collection on policy diffusion

Summer Highlights Collection from Policy & Politics

BROWN_SarahSarah Brown,
Journal Manager of Policy & Politics

Policy & Politics Summer Highlights collection free to access from 1 May 2019 – 31 July 2019.

This quarter’s highlights collection from Policy & Politics showcases the best of the journal’s most topical research, retaining our hallmark focus on combining robust science coupled with a real-world relevance that resonates across our diverse readership.

Continue reading Summer Highlights Collection from Policy & Politics

New Policy & Politics Virtual Issue on the Welfare State: free to download until the end of November

Sarah Brown2By Sarah Brown, Journal Manager

From a prevailing, long-standing debate in the journal on the welfare state, we bring you a collection of our best and most recent articles. To highlight just a couple: Anthony McCashin’s How much change? Pierson and the welfare state revisited provides a structural overview of the impact of globalisation on analyses of the welfare state.

Meanwhile Sharon Wright, through forensic scrutiny, exposes the gulf between the discursive constitution of the welfare subject by policy makers, and the lived experiences of those subjects in her article Conceptualising the active welfare subject: welfare reform in discourse, policy and lived experience.
All of these articles seek to critically evaluate this contentious area of policy and point towards purposeful research agendas for the future. Download them now before 30 November while they’re free to access! Continue reading New Policy & Politics Virtual Issue on the Welfare State: free to download until the end of November

New Policy & Politics Virtual Issue on Public Services and Reform: free to download until the end of November

By Sarah Brown, Journal ManagerSarah Brown2

Try our new themed virtual issues which are free to download from 1-30 November:

Public Services and Reform
In this new virtual issue, we bring you our most impactful and recent research from diverse perspectives with a coherence of focus on increasing our understanding of public services and reform.

To introduce two highlights from the issue, opening the collection is one of our most innovative articles on how health discourses are linked to population health outcomes, hence the title: Working-class discourses of politics, policy and health: ‘I don’t smoke; I don’t drink. The only thing wrong with me is my health’. Moving from health to employment, Rebecca Taylor analyses the changing dynamics that come into play as the provision of employment services increasingly moves to public, private and third-sector organisations in her article entitled UK employment services: understanding provider strategies in a dynamic strategic action field. Covering a diverse range of public industries, other articles in the collection offer insightful studies across education, social care, disability, counter-terrorism, local government and state regulation.

Download them now before 30 November while they’re free to access! Continue reading New Policy & Politics Virtual Issue on Public Services and Reform: free to download until the end of November

The importance of evidence-based policy making, why measurement matters, and Claire Dunlop on learning from failure.

Sarah Brown2

by Sarah Brown, Journal Manager

Free research articles for APPAM 2017 from Policy & Politics on the importance of evidence-based policy making, why measurement matters and, Claire Dunlop on learning from failure.

In celebration of APPAM’s Fall Research Conference theme this year which looks at the importance of measurement in evaluating policy and performance, we have developed a virtual issue of recent research articles based on the conference theme which are free to access from 1-30 November. Just click on the hyperlinks below to go straight to the download page for each article.

Download the articles before 30 November while they’re free to access! Continue reading The importance of evidence-based policy making, why measurement matters, and Claire Dunlop on learning from failure.

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

Studies in Policy Failure: Government Decisions That Don’t Benefit Anybody

newman_birdJoshua Newman and Malcolm Bird

It seems that whenever political leaders announce a new policy, a program, a tax, a tax cut, a purchase, a sale, or anything else, they invariably claim that this decision will be for the benefit of all citizens. Of course, only the deeply deluded would believe this to be true – the fundamental scarcity of resources insists that every decision that a government makes must produce winners and losers, supporters and opponents. You can’t please all of the people all of the time.

But what if, sometimes, governments did things that didn’t benefit anybody? What if it were possible for situations to arise that actually gave incentives to governing parties to produce pathological policy outcomes? Instead of learning from mistakes, can governments sometimes deliberately make matters worse? Continue reading Studies in Policy Failure: Government Decisions That Don’t Benefit Anybody