The transformation of policy advisory systems: lessons from Whitehall

Patrick DiamondPatrick Diamond

Across the world over the last thirty years, the provision of policy advice to governments has been transformed as a diverse range of actors have been increasingly engaged in the policy-making process. Academic research needs to better understand the changes that have taken place by considering the shape of the new advisory systems, and the influence of different types of policy advice. In my latest research article in Policy & Politics, I seek to address this gap in understanding. The scholars Jonathan Craft and John Halligan developed the concept of a ‘policy advisory system’ to explain how policy advice is formulated by ‘interlocking actors’ beyond the formal bureaucracy of government. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) define policy advisory systems as the autonomous organisations – advisory bodies, think-tanks, policy labs, ‘what works’ centres, political advisers, committees of inquiry – that sustain government’s requirement for knowledge and expertise. Their growth has been observed particularly in the Anglophone countries – New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the UK. Continue reading

Polycentric governance networks – how do they work in metropolitan planning organizations?

Asim Zia
Asim Zia

Asim Zia, University of Vermont, discusses the background to his article in the latest issue of Policy & Politics, Scale and intensity of collaboration as determinants of performance management gaps in polycentric governance networks: Evidence from a national survey of metropolitan planning organisations (MPOs)

This article represents convergence of two theoretical streams in the public policy, political science and public management literature: on the one hand, Elinor Ostrom’s stellar career laid the foundations for the notion of ‘polycentric governance’; on the other hand, advancements in network governance and collaborative governance theory led to the notion of ‘governance networks’ that use methodological rigor of network science and systems analysis to unpack decision making dynamics in various public and public-private action arenas. In this paper, we develop the theoretical notion of ‘polycentric governance networks’ and study their manifestation in the world of ‘metropolitan planning organizations’ (MPOs).

In our social-ecological gaming and simulation (SEGS) lab, which I co-direct with Professor Chris Koliba, empirical investigation and the simulation of a large variety of governance networks is one of our primary research Continue reading