Special issue blog series on Transformational Change through Public Policy.
Paul Cairney, Emily St.Denny, Sean Kippin, Heather Mitchell
Could policy theories help to understand and facilitate the pursuit of equity (or reduction of unfair inequalities)? We are producing a series of literature reviews to help answer that question, beginning with the study of equity policy and policymaking in health, education, and gender research, which has just been published in Policy & Politics. Continue reading
Journal Manager, Policy & Politics
This quarter’s collection highlights three of our most popular and highly cited articles in 2021 which, based on their readership and citation levels, have clearly made an important contribution to their fields.
The first article, A theoretical framework for studying the co-creation of innovative solutions and public value, forms an introduction to the special issue on co-creation in public policy and governance, guest edited by Jacob Torfing, Ewan Ferlie, Tina Jukić and Edoardo Ongaro, published in April 2021. The central proposition is that the concept of public value carries unexploited potential as a ‘game changer’ for advancing the co-creation of innovative solutions in the public sector. They argue that it allows us to appreciate the many different public and private actors, including service users, citizens and civil society organisations, which can contribute to the production of public value. The authors quip that co-creation is the “new black” because it mobilises societal resources, enhances innovation and builds joint ownership over new public value outcomes. Continue reading
Special issue blog series on advancing our understanding of the politics behind nudge and the ‘behavioural insights’ trend in public policy.
Benjamin Ewert and Kathrin Loer
There is a controversial debate going on about using public policy to influence people’s behaviour. The discussion becomes particularly heated when behavioural public policy is accused of being manipulative or opaque. Scholarly thinking on Behavioural Public Policy (BPP) as a relatively new policy concept that has been established in recent years is not neutral but influenced by heuristics and biases. BPP is often equated with “nudge”, a notion that goes back to Thaler’s and Sunstein’s definition of the concept in 2008. Moreover, BPP has not integrated with a range of behavioural sciences but instead has been associated with rather restricted insights from behavioural economics and psychology, by behavioural scientists such as Kahneman, Tversky and Thaler. Indeed the fact that BPP suffers from inherent biases is somewhat ironic since the concept’s main claim is precisely to disclose the heuristics and biases that influence human behaviour and to counteract them by behaviourally informed policy designs. That’s the theory. However, in practice, BPP is pretty much determined by “nudge theory”, a fact that, on the one hand, has contributed to the rapid popularisation of the policy concept but, on the other hand, has constantly fuelled criticisms predominantly about its lack of understanding of how people’s behaviour is influenced by social contexts (e.g. families, communities and place of employment) and triggered by situational effects (e.g. peer-group pressure). Continue reading
Vesa Koskimaa and Lauri Rapeli
It seems that people are growing increasingly disappointed with how representative democracy functions. A big part of the problem is arguably a de-attachment of policymakers from citizens’ everyday problems, which prompts citizens to react by turning their backs on conventional politics. Many scholars and other observers have turned to democratic innovations for solutions on how the link between democratic publics and their democratic leaders could be improved. Innovations based on the theory of deliberative democracy have probably received most attention by scholars and practitioners. Deliberative democracy refers to a decision-making process, which emphasizes informed, reflexive and egalitarian interpersonal communication.
To put theory into practice, mini-publics, like citizen initiative reviews, juries and assemblies have been widely used in democracies across the world. In these deliberative groups, randomly selected individuals discuss and decide upon a specific political issue on the basis of best expert knowledge and argumentation. A considerable number of studies have discussed theoretically whether deliberative bodies could fix the problems of contemporary representative democracy. Other studies have used experimental methods to examine the internal proceedings and effects of these deliberations. What has, however, almost totally been ignored by scholars are the views of policy-making elites, whose opinions on democracy eventually determine the shape of new democratic institutions. Continue reading
Journal Manager, Policy & Politics
The intellectual aims of the journal Policy & Politics are varied, but if we could only choose one hallmark that signifies a ‘Policy & Politics article’, it would be to foreground the politics of the policy-making process and advance our understanding of that analytical field. Our three featured articles this quarter do precisely that, yet within significantly different theoretical and empirical contexts (pluralism being another hallmark of P&P). Continue reading
This was originally posted on Paul Cairney’s blog, Politics & Public Policy.
This is an introduction to the Open Access journal article – “The ‘Scottish approach’ to policy and policymaking: what issues are territorial and what are universal?” by Paul Cairney, Siabhainn Russell, and Emily St Denny, in Policy and Politics.
The ‘Scottish approach’ refers to the Scottish Government’s reputation for pursuing a consultative and cooperative style when it makes and implements policy in devolved areas (including health, education, local government and justice). It works with voluntary groups, unions, professional bodies, the private sector and local and health authorities to gather information and foster support for its policy aims. This approach extends to policy delivery, with the Scottish Government willing to produce a broad national strategy and series of priorities – underpinned by the ‘National Performance Framework’ – and trust bodies such as local authorities to meet its aims. In turn, local authorities work with a wide range of bodies in the public, voluntary and private sector – in ‘Community Planning Partnerships’ – to produce shared aims relevant to their local areas. ‘Single Outcome Agreements’ mark a symbolic shift away from ‘topdown’ implementation, in which local authorities and other bodies are punished if they do not meet short-term targets, towards the production of longer-term shared aims and cooperation. Continue reading
Personalisation is squarely at the heart of current policy debate around adult social care. For the last 10 years the British government has been experimenting with moving away from assisting users through providing services drawn from a relatively short menu of possibilities. Personalisation gives users personal or individual budgets and allowing them discretion to determine how they think the money should be best spent to meet their own understanding of their needs.
From a policymaking perspective it is a fascinating development because stakeholders from very different perspectives feel able to support it. The market liberals see it as a means of introducing competition and choice into public service provision, while those more concerned with autonomy and dignity see it as a means of empowering service users. Those concerned about the size of the welfare budget see it as a more efficient way of achieving positive outcomes for those receiving assistance. With such diverse constituencies lined up behind it, it is perhaps not surprising that the personalisation agenda has momentum.
And this is the case despite the need for several notes of caution. First, there is the tension between the individualisation of welfare and society’s collective responsibility for meeting the needs of its population. Second, there are concerns that personalisation may be great for some but it is not necessarily beneficial for all recipients of social care – older people in particular. Third, the evidence that personalisation delivers cost savings and enhanced outcomes is promising, but by no means overwhelming. Some would contest it vigorously.
Debate about personalisation can also occur at a more conceptual level. Precisely what type of state intervention does it represent? It is not the sort of direct service provision that much of social care provision has traditionally been based upon, but at the same time it isn’t a pure income transfer of the type so beloved by economists. In a paper in the current issue of Policy & Politics Simon Duffy and his colleagues offer a framework for thinking about personal budgets as a conditional resource entitlements (CRE). The characteristics of such entitlements can be examined in relation to five dimensions: autonomy, flexibility, targeting, support and conditionality. The authors argue that the nature of the conditionality associated with personal budgets differentiates it from other types of CRE: the focus is less on how resources are spent and more upon outcomes.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this issue is what personal budgets might tell us about future directions for welfare. Here Duffy et al offer a brief discussion of three possible scenarios. First, personal budgets are a transition in the move towards pure income transfers. Second, personal budgets represent an optimal state – they represent the best of both worlds. Third, personal budgets represent a stage in the process of shifting greater responsibility for meeting need away from the state and towards the individual. These are all plausible futures. Which one is realised will depend in part on how we make sense of the agenda and how we narrate it. Whether we embrace it uncritically or whether we contest it. There is much still to play for.
Duffy, S., Waters, J. and Glasby, J. (2010) ‘Personalisation and adult social care: future options for the reform of public services’, Policy & Politics, Volume 38, Number 4, October 2010*
Alex Marsh, Management Board, Policy & Politics
* This article is only available to subscribers. If you are not subscribed and would like to read this article, why not sign up for a free trial at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/tpp/pap/trial
Also available: Direct payments and personal budgets: Putting personalisation into practice by Jon Glasby and Rosemary Littlechild