Pascal D. König & Markus B. Siewert
A key promise of representative democracy is that the government strives to generate public policy outputs which are responsive to the preferences of (a majority of) the people. If it delivers on its policy promises, a government can expect to gain or maintain support in the electorate, but if it fails to do so, it is likely to be sanctioned at the next election. This amounts to a central – albeit perhaps somewhat romanticising – rationale behind political competition driving policymakers to do their job. Continue reading Claiming and Assigning Credit for Fulfilled Policy Promises – Why Policymakers Fight an Uphill Battle
Ruth Dixon and Thomas Elston
Over 97 per cent of English local authorities cooperate with one another, providing common public services across separate council areas. Ruth Dixon and Thomas Elston consider how and why this occurs. In a follow-up to their previous post, they find that propensity to collaborate is unpredictable, but partner choice can be partly explained by geographical proximity of councils and similarities in organizational and resource characteristics. Contrary to the view that collaboration is a wholly ‘rational’ strategy chosen simply to improve service costs or quality, therefore, this analysis suggests that both efficiency and legitimacy influenced reform choices. Continue reading Efficiency and legitimacy in inter-local agreements: why collaboration has become a default choice among councils
‘Evidence-based policy’ and ‘what works’ are phrases that have become increasingly embedded in debate surrounding good policy-making over the last 20 years. This period has seen no shortage of critiques of these terms and the ways in which they have been employed, but relatively few attempts to articulate the precise foundations of knowledge on which they rest. Yet there are many interesting and important questions that might be asked. How exactly are stronger forms of evidence to be separated from weaker forms? What foundational assumptions lie behind the frequent endorsement of experimental methods? Or, most fundamentally, what precisely is the nature of the proposed link between good evidence and good policy? Continue reading A new understanding of evidence-based policy
Policy solutions, interventions and reform revolve around specific societal diagnoses of the problems that policymaking is supposed to solve. One of the most influential societal diagnoses informing contemporary policy reform seems to be the following: the world has become more ‘complex’, problems have become ‘wicked’ ie intractable, and all policy solutions involve a great deal of ‘uncertainty’. This popular, but rather vague and unhistorical notion has sprung various new approaches to solve diverging political problems. These approaches are often legitimised with scientific knowledge and methods. Continue reading ‘Scientific’ policymaking in a ‘complex’ world – what can we learn from the Finnish experience?
At last climate change is moving to the top of the political agenda worldwide. I joined Extinction Rebellion in October 2018, frustrated at the lack of action by governments generally in the face of accelerating increase in global greenhouse gas emissions, and in particular by the UK government’s decision to go ahead with the third runway at Heathrow Airport, which can only contribute further to this great acceleration. Much has changed in the last year but governments have largely continued with ‘business as usual’, with all that that means in terms of supporting the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, the intensification of agriculture, the destruction of rain forests, the pollution of the world’s oceans, and so on. Continue reading A critique of climate change mitigation policy
Journal Manager of Policy & Politics
In a slight departure from our usual format highlighting 3 of our most topical articles, this quarter’s highlights collection focuses on our new special issue just published on
Policy-making as designing: the added value of design thinking for public administration and public policy
In recent years, policy makers have shown increasing interest in harnessing design approaches to address policy problems. Design methods can offer innovative perspectives on persistent policy problems (e.g. climate change; ageing population; urbanization etc.). Given the enormous influx of design toolboxes, design approaches and design steps, the search is on for an ‘ultimate’ design approach for public sector problems. But there are different approaches that can be used, and which have different strengths. Continue reading Policy & Politics Highlights collection on our NEW special issue just published on ‘Policy-making as designing’: free to access from 1 Feb – 30th April 2020.
Eleanor MacKillop, Sarah Quarmby and James Downe
If only policy could be better informed by evidence, it would be more efficient, effective and deliver better outcomes. That belief is the premise for most of the current research into what is called ‘knowledge brokering’– linking research to policy and practice. It’s also what has led governments worldwide into investing significant resources into bridging the evidence-policy ‘gap,’ such as What Works Centres in the UK, Productivity Commissions in Australia and New Zealand, or the What Works Clearinghouse in the United States. Unfortunately, the existing literature isn’t clear about what knowledge brokering is, and whether it works. Continue reading Knowledge brokering for policy: What do we know?