Tag Archives: policy failure

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