T02P20 - Formulating Policy

Topic : Comparative Public Policy sponsored by Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis

Chair : Mukherjee Ishani - im49@cornell.edu

Second Chair : Michael Howlett - howlett@sfu.ca

Third Chair : Bali Azad Singh - azadsinghbali@gmail.com

General Objectives, Research Questions and Scientific Relevance

Call for papers

Session 1 Policy Advice and Policy Formulation: Comparative Analyses

Thursday, June 29th 08:15 to 10:15 (Block B 4 - 1)


Meng Hsuan Chou - Hsuan@ntu.edu.sg - Nanyang Technological University - Singapore


Preparing policy designers: Can effective formulation of policies be taught?

Arnost Veselý - veselya@fsv.cuni.cz - Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University - Czech Republic

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Recent works on policy formulation – including scholarship on policy work, policy advisory systems and instrument constituencies – have persuasively demonstrated that the way how policies are actually designed differ substantially from the ideal image depicted in standard US textbooks on policy analysis. A decade ago Colebatch (2006: 311) explained that “the most common explanation of this is that the textbook account represents a norm, an ideal to which policy workers aspire but which circumstances may prevent them attaining”. Thus, the reality itself was wrong, not the analytical framework and assumptions of policy analysis. Colebatch (2006: 311) concluded with a bit of irony that “there’s nothing wrong with the analytic framework, it’s the foreigners that have the problem.”

Now we know that not the reality, but rather the traditional textbooks are to be questioned. For instance, proposing policy usually means formulating a mix of different tools, rather than choosing one discrete alternative as it is assumed in most traditional textbooks. Similarly, designing policies in democratic and network societies is inconceivable without communication with a wide range of actors which is an activity omitted in many classical accounts. It is also now generally acknowledged that effective policy formulation is impossible without clear understanding of mechanisms of how the proposed policy will influence the behavior of target groups. Again this is a topic rarely discussed in traditional policy analysis.

The aim of the paper is to review what we have learnt about policy formulation in the last decades, how the practice of policy formulation have evolved and discuss implications for preparing people who design public policies. I challenge some assumptions upon which traditional policy analysis has been constructed, but which are not in congruence with recent research findings. In doing so, I employ not only theoretical literature on policy design, but also empirical research on policy work. I also draw upon thirteen years of extensive personal experience in teaching policy analysis and policy design. I conclude with some tentative recommendations on how to enhance preparation of policy designers, and discuss to what extent effective policy formulation can be taught.


Regime Institutional Politics, policy narrative and formulating public policy: A study of national advisory council in india

Gopal G Reddy - gopalreddy1955@gmail.com - Osmania University - India

G. Ram Reddy - gavvaramreddy@gmail.com - Osmania University - India

Public policy and the study of ways to promote the general welfare goes back to centuries.Policy is made in the present, based on the past, with the purpose of improving the well being of the society's future. Public policy has become increasingly an important answer to address the issues of the masses world over irrespective of the nature of the State, Government and Regimes.

India, the democracy of seven decades old standing, cruising through elections after elections seeking popular consent periodically in the light of the given constitutional  mandate by people themselves. As  a State wedded to welfarism India  in its governance has heavily depended upon  it's public policy agenda. India being a an electoral democracy  draws  it's sources of public policy from the wide variety of both formal and informal institutions which are very vibrant and visible and sources the strength from heterogeneous settings of Indian society and polity.

The proposed presentation examines the role played by National Advisory Council , a body which is purely a creation based on Regime Interests, and how an extra Constitutional arrangement like this has brought fundamental change in the policy domain by bringing in Rights based governance in the place of welfare based governance.This is the central research question and a case study method is employed to study the problem.                                                                                


Institutional Capacities in Agenda-Setting and Policy Formulation in the Philippine House of Representatives

Lorena Fernandez - enaselin@yahoo.com - House of Representatives - Philippines

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The research tracks how bills enter the agenda and are considered in legislative committees, the vital cog where legislation is principally refined. It traces the problem, policy, and political streams of Kingdon’s Multiple Streams Model (1995). The model posits that policies triggered by contemporaneous events, advocated by policy entrepreneurs, and supported by political leaders become priority agenda.

The research also argues that legislative committees are organized anarchies, following the Garbage Can Model of Cohen, March, & Olsen (1972). It explores the three properties of organized anarchies which are evident in committee meetings, the heart of the policy formulation stage. The three properties—inconsistent preferences, fluid participation, and unclear technology—mean that priorities are ill-defined; actors enter or exit at will during meetings; and the committee has no predictable methods in considering bills.

Following the Garbage-Can and Multiple Streams Models, the research studies the Committees on Health and on Transportation at the House of Representatives by interviewing key informants and by analyzing minutes, pertinent documents, and newspaper headlines.

The research finds that agendas are mostly detached from pivotal events, and are influenced by policy entrepreneurs and the President’s imprimatur. Meanwhile, meetings are characterized by the varying preferences and volatile participation of Members and resource persons. The treatment of measures is also unpredictable.

Committees decide substantially with a logic of appropriateness, or generally acceptable rules, procedures, and practices, rather than rationality. Further, a measure is approved if this was filed and processed on time; if the Chair and some Members shepherded it; and if the prospective implementing agency consistently supported it.

Finally, the research recommends ways to strengthen the capacity of the committee to address the ambiguities common in agenda-setting and policy formulation.




Whose Order? From Yes Minister to Bottom Up: Health Policy Making in France and Turkey

OZGE ULUSKARADAG - ozge.uluskaradag@concordia.ca - Concordia University - Canada

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In recent decades, the literatures on bureaucracy, public policy and comparative politics have underlined that many European countries have faced increasing politicization in their public bureaucracies .Yet, there has not been an emphasis on why there is a variation in the ways in which countries’ bureaucracies are politicized or policies are formulated even under similar institutional settings. In the light of such theoretical concerns, this paper asks the following questions: (1) What explains variation in public bureaucracies’ performance under similar institutional settings facing politicization? (2) How does different forms of politicization inform policy advisory roles of expert-bureaucrats and shape policy formulation in health care? Drawing on more than 70 in-depth semi-structured interviews with high ranked bureaucrats in the Ministry of Health in France and Turkey and policy documents, the paper hypothesizes that a politicized bureaucracy can take several forms and its effects can vary across institutional settings, policy stages and policy fields. Therefore a general statement about its impact on the policy process would neglect the variation in policy formulation and outcomes, which is overlooked by the existing literature. To fill this gap, the paper proposes an alternative form of politicization: politicization with high administrative capacity vs politicization with low administrative capacity. It argues that the differences in policy formulation in health care have much to do with how countries politicize their bureaucracies.


Analyzing the conditions under which state bureaucracies are politicized, this paper tries to fill the gap by offering an alternative form of politicization to explain the variation in government performance in health policy making.

In recent decades, the literatures on bureaucracy, public policy and comparative politics have underlined that many European countries have faced increasing politicization in their public bureaucracies .Yet, there has not been an emphasis on why there is a variation in the ways in which countries’ bureaucracies are politicized or policies are formulated even under similar institutional settings. In the light of such theoretical concerns, this paper asks the following questions: (1) What explains variation in public bureaucracies’ performance under similar institutional settings facing politicization? (2) How does different forms of politicization inform policy advisory roles of expert-bureaucrats and shape policy formulation in health care? Drawing on more than 70 in-depth semi-structured interviews with high ranked bureaucrats in the Ministry of Health in France and Turkey and policy documents, the paper hypothesizes that a politicized bureaucracy can take several forms and its effects can vary across institutional settings, policy stages and policy fields. Therefore a general statement about its impact on the policy process would neglect the variation in policy formulation and outcomes, which is overlooked by the existing literature. To fill this gap, the paper proposes an alternative form of politicization: politicization with high administrative capacity vs politicization with low administrative capacity. It argues that the differences in policy formulation in health care have much to do with how countries politicize their bureaucracies.


Analyzing the conditions under which state bureaucracies are politicized, this paper tries to fill the gap by offering an alternative form of politicization to explain the variation in government performance in health policy making. 


Analysis of local tax system formulation process

Masato Miyazaki - miyazaki@mail.saitama-u.ac.jp - Saitama University - Japan

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In this study I have analyzed the factors that led to the integration of the local tax rate and base of the municipal income tax in Japan. Until 1963, there were two methods of taxation in the municipal income tax. These were the principle and the exception, and the municipalities could choose either of the two. This study discusses the process of integrating the methods of taxation into the principle.

The flexible management of tax rate and base had been continuing since the Shoup Report. Before the integration of the local tax rate and base in the 1960s, the municipalities with weak financial strength were levying the heavy tax by the exception. Integrating the tax rate and base was based on the policy objective of eliminating the disparities of the burden level between the municipalities with regard to the municipal income tax.

If we look back in time, the year 1963 was a huge turning point for the local public finance system in Japan. Depicting the forming process of this system clarifies the formation of Japanese features.

The driving force of integration was the public commitment of tax reduction made by the LDP in view of the general elections of 1963. Prime Minister Ikeda played a prominent role in accomplishing the integration of the tax rate and base of the municipal income tax. With the support of the LDP that was mobilized by the petitions from the National Association of Towns and Villages during the budget negotiation process, compensatory measures for the fall in tax revenues that were being opposed by the Ministry of Finance were introduced, the Ministry of Home Affairs implemented the integration of the tax rate and base, along with the introduction of the standard tax rate and limited tax rate systems.

In this way, the standard base of taxation and tax rate of the municipal income tax in Japan were formed.

Session 2 Policy Consultants: Consultocracy or Advisors Like Any Other?

Thursday, June 29th 10:30 to 12:30 (Block B 4 - 1)


Caspar VAN DEN BERG - c.f.van.den.berg@fgga.leidenuniv.nl - Leiden University - Netherlands


Trends in Policy Consulting in the Philippines: A database analysis of procurement notices for policy consultants

Kidjie Ian Saguin - kidjie_saguin@u.nus.edu - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy - Singapore

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No one can deny the importance of policy advice in the policy process. The fundamental approach to policy advice derives from the recognition that the government requires highly technical and scientific expertise for effective policy making but the actual role played by consultants in such activity is poorly understood and little researched. This is specially so for developing countries where data is scarce. But the better understanding of the nature of policy consulting is contingent on the examining the demand from the public service to outsource policy work. The orthodox belief makes policy consultants as purveyors of specialized knowledge to introduce innovative policy solutions while the public service performs both technical and political tasks (Meltsner 1976). But the emergence of a pluralized and contested policy advisory system is unmistakable (Radin 2000, Halligan 1995). Recent literature have established that policy advice in developed countries is observed to be highly externalized, proceduralized and politicized (Howlett, Migone, and Tan 2014, Howlett et al. 2014, Craft and Howlett 2013). Whether these trends apply in developing remains to be seen, an investigation of which will shed a light on the extent on the nature of policy consulting in developing countries.


This proposed paper shall be an initial attempt at examining the demand for policy consulting in a developing country. It reports on the state of consulting work in the Philippine government based on analysis of a recently made public database of bid notices for consulting services from 2007-2015. The study shall look into the nature of policy consulting in terms of whether policy advice dwell on processes instead of strategic concerns by looking at categories of policy advice found in the database. The study partially confirms the proceduralization hypothesis but also surfaced the almost equal importance of strategic policy advice. It also find evidence to support that policy advice is increasingly externalized but not necessarily politicized in the Philippines. 


Externalization of Policy and Program Development: the Big Four Accounting-Consulting Firms in Australia in Recent Decades

Michael Howard - Michael.Howard@newcastle.edu.au - University of Newcastle - Australia

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In a number of recent articles and papers Michael Howlett has explored an aspect of the externalisation thesis in regard to policy advisory systems, namely the question of the contribution of ‘invisible’ commercial consultants. Howlett and his co-authors have largely focused their research on the analysis of official data bases on contracts let by governments in Canada and the USA. The stimulus for this investigation has been improvements in the level of detail provided in these databases over the past decade. This paper will pursue the same research question, namely the extent and significance of contributions to policy and program development by commercial consultants, by drawing on similar data sources for Australia. The paper will cover the period from the mid-1980s to the present. Like Howlett, the author will draw attention to both the usefulness of these official sources and their limitations in obtaining a better grasp of the scope and nature of policy related consultancy and other contract work done by commercial consultants. While the questions raised in the paper apply to commercial consultants in general, the paper will focus on the Big Four international accounting-consulting firms – PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), KPMG, Ernst & Young and Deloitte. The rationale for this focus is the finding that throughout the past thirty years this group of four firms (or their antecedents in the Big Eight) have consistently scored the largest number and value of consultancies in the public sector consultancy market, compared to other consulting entities.


The paper will feature a classification developed by the author to analyse ‘types’ of consultancies performed by these four firms in the ‘take-off period’ of the late 1980s through to the mid-1990s. It will supplement this with an analysis of data using new categories built into the national government contracts database since 2007. The paper will document a very marked long-term increase in the number and value of consultancies and other contracts awarded to these four firms during the past three decades. It will also document the breadth of type of work undertaken, ranging from program-related research, advice on program planning, through to administration/implementation and evaluation.


As a contribution to the ICPP panel on Policy Formulation, the paper will recognise that in the specific sense that the term ‘policy formulation’ is used in the standard policy cycle/policy stages model -  namely, the stage whereby policy options are articulated in response to ‘agenda-setting’ and are then winnowed down, prior to the ‘decision-making stage’ – analysis of the official data bases, in isolation from other sources, can yield only limited insights.  On the other hand,  analysis of these data bases does give us a panoramic window into the presence of the Big Four across the whole of the policy development process, especially advice on management  and technical administration of programs. Given that implementation and administration is widely accepted in the literature as a stage where policy is interpreted and modified, the more ubiquitous this presence, the more one can posit cumulative influence on policy and program development overall.


Investigating New Data on U.S. Policy Consulting: The American Experience in Comparative Perspective

Michael Howlett - howlett@sfu.ca - Simon Fraser University - Canada

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Governmental use of consultancy services has long been a concern for scholars of public administration, management and political science. Empirical studies of policy-related consulting are scarce, however, with little quantitative data. This is true of the largest and most archetypal case of government contracting, the United States, which has received very little detailed treatment, despite a plethora of anecdotal and popular accounts claiming to have documented a pattern of exponential growth in the size and impact of policy-related government contracting. This paper reports on the distribution of the American federal government’s contracting of policy services in the context of several new initiatives on the part of the Obama administration which provide reasonably accurate data related to questions about the size, trends and other aspects of US federal government policy consulting. These results are then compared to other countries where similar data exists.

Session 3 Policy Advice and Decision-Making: Case Studies

Thursday, June 29th 13:30 to 15:30 (Block B 4 - 1)


Nihit Goyal - nihit@u.nus.edu - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy - Singapore


Higher education, migration and policy design of the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002

Exequiel Cabanda - ecabanda@gmail.com - Nanyang Technological University - Singapore

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In examining the nexus between higher education and migration policy, scholars explore the institutional level (i.e. how universities compete for students) and individual migrants’ perspectives (i.e. motivations to pursue higher education and emigrate) but little is known on the role of the states in creating a policy environment for these actors to operate. From the policy design of the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 utilizing congressional deliberation documents and elite interviews of key policy actors, this study accounts the state’s role in promoting emigration by designing nursing policy that educates Filipino nurses for foreign employment. By identifying and accounting for the competing motivations of policy actors inside and outside the domain of higher education, it concludes that in the design of nursing policy these policy actors integrate nursing education to the overarching state policy on labor export for economic development.


Explaining social actors influencing government agenda by adding an institutional analysis of the decision-making arena

Sandra Gomes - sgomes.vaughan@gmail.com - Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) - Brazil

JOANA TEREZA Moura - joanatereza@gmail.com - Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte - Brazil

Jenair Silva - jenairsilva@gmail.com - Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte - Brazil

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Concerning agenda setting, social and political actors are known to be key analytical elements given their potential capacity to mobilize people and groups, to influence public opinion, to voice demands, defend interests and policy alternatives, in sum, promoting their ideas and interests. Social movements theories have been successful in explaining how activists interact with each other forming policy communities to promote their agendas and exerting influence on public opinion. However, little is know from this literature about how governments incorporate (or not) their demands on policy formulation. In a quite separate way, public policy theories have focused on policy decisions from within the government apparatus, usually not referring to previous and exogenous influences that determine the choice of policy and alternatives. Given that both analytical perspectives, one looking at the social bases and actions of social actors and another focusing on rules (or institutional) and collective behaviour in decision-making settings are useful to explain a policy outcome, this paper explores how these two different perspectives could be applied jointly to explain how an issue was adopted as a government public policy. The chosen case is the agenda setting and policy formulation process of a Brazilian public policy, namely the Program “Young People Alive”, a policy that aimed at reducing the levels of homicide among young people, especially targeting the black population - the majority of murders' victims in Brazil. It was a proposal that encountered strong resistance from specific political groups (including policymakers). Given that political support is considered central to explain policy formulation, how, then, was it possible to approve a policy that was not consensual but answered historical social demands from social movements? The adoption of Public conferences with the participation of civil society as a policy instrument was an important step towards success but insufficient to explain the result. In this case, the political context, and specially the institutional configurations and the occupation of strategic political positions by activists from social movements and political parties are central analytical elements to explain the likelihood of an issue to enter the governmental agenda. Thus, the formulation of this policy can be analysed from both points of view: the influence of social movements' demands and their strategic behaviour and also the impact of institutional decision-making configurations on policy outcome. After a brief review of some of the theoretical proposals, a combined explanation is presented which enhances the understanding of how a policy choice becomes viable even under potential political conflict.


Policy Confusion - Social Cohesion or Countering Terrorism?

Katharine Gelber - k.gelber@uq.edu.au - University of Queensland - Australia

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In 2006 in the United Kingdom and in 2010 in Australia new incitement to religious and racial hatred provisions were enacted that were formulated with a dual policy purpose: protecting  vulnerable communities from harm, and countering terrorism. In the literature to date, analysis of these provisions has emphasized the first rationale. In this paper, I argue that the second rationale is just as important and has been insufficiently appreciated to date. Focussing on the justifying discourse of policy makers, I show how the policy formulation of these provisions in both countries was confused. I argue that they therefore should not primarily be seen as a ‘win’ for the protection of minorities, and moreover that they ushered in an epistemic confusion that is unhelpful in the context of formulating policy that effectively can counter the threats of terrorist, extremist speech.


This paper therefore explores and unpacks contested, overlapping and even contradictory rationales posited in the formulation of incitement to hatred policy, in the context of a broad counter terrorism rationale. It is an empirically driven, comparative case study on the dynamics and outcomes of policy formulation.


A literature review on the formulation of public policies in Brazil

Elines Tatianes Pereira dos Santos - senilestar@hotmail.com - Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro-UFRRJ - Brazil

Biancca Scarpeline de Castro - bianccastro2@gmail.com - Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro - Brazil

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The study of public policies in Brazil is recent, dating from 1969, period of the initial flowering of public administration as a discipline. However, despite the foreign influence, until the early 1980s the study of public policies was relatively restricted in Brazil, focusing on planning and economic development, in the context of environment of military dictatorship and with very littleresearch funding. Only after the Brazilian re-democratization, in the mid 1980s, did the area grow significantly, not only in the discipline of public administration, but also in economics, sociology, anthropology, and political science. This growth is evidenced by the number of journals specialized in the subject (there are 15 academic journalsin the country, currently) and with 12,133 theses and dissertations that dealt with the theme between 1987 and 2010, equivalent to 2.6% of the national production.

There are many theoretical approaches and analytical methods used in Brazil by researchers who are dedicated to public policies. However, one approach that has had special attention is the policy cycle: public policies are understood as a dynamic process formed by phases, including the phases of formulation, implementation and analysis. In this way, the main focus of this article is in the formulation phase. Its objective is to carry out a literature survey and analysis of the publications on public policy formulation in Brazil in the last 25 years.

For this, a bibliometric research is carried out, that is, a research analysis technique that studies publications in academic articles to quantify, analyze and evaluate the scientific production of different subjects.

This methodology relies on the following stages: (1) choice of the relevant databases (the main portal of Brazilian electronic journals, CAPES portal); (2) determination of an algorithm (which in this case will be "formulation of public policies"); (3) filter by pre-selected criteria (such as the selected period, between 1990 and 2015); (4) systematization, identification of indicators and analysis of results.

The aim of the research is to identify the main disciplines that are dealing with the formulation of public policies, the main topics addressed, the main theoretical proposals and the most important international influences of these studies in the country.

The academic production regarding the formulation of public policies in Brazil will allow verify the importance of the subject in the national publications and within the area of ​​the analysis of the public policies, the frequency of theoretical or empirical studies, and the main disciplinary areas and academic approaches that deal with the subject. Therefore, this will be an important tool to analyze and compare the Brazilian academic production on the subject with that of other countries.


Keywords: Formulation of public policies; policy cycle; Brazil

Public policy formulation in contemporary Brazil: the role of religious values

Joao Gois - jbhg@uol.com.br - Universidade Federal Fluminense - Brazil

Graziela Quintão - grazielaquintao@id.uff.br - Universidade Federal Fluminense - Brazil

Although the different levels of government have been producing massive quantities of public policies in Brazil since the 1930s, only in the last two decades such policies started to be more thoroughly evaluated. Consequently, the formulation of many policies in this country is yet to be better understood. Understanding policy formulation is particularly relevant nowadays because Brazil faces a severe crisis, that encompasses economic and political variables, that threatens to damage its already fragile welfare system. Notwithstanding the importance of such variables, light also needs to be shed on another one - the moral values - that is little studied but that has been playing an important role in the shaping of public policies in the current Brazilian context. This discussion is important because it allowed us to: 1) explore the formulation of public policies in Brazil from a little used perspective; 2) examine a set of moral values – the evangelical one – that is occupying a relevant position in the setting of the public agenda in this country, particularly in the fields of sexual and reproductive rights and gender equality; and 3) study the increasing influence of the House of Representatives evangelical bench in the shaping of public policies and the eventual harms it may cause to both the consolidation of a lay State and the freedom of religious expression. These questions were examined in this paper through the analysis of discourses, reports, projects of laws, decrees etc. prepared by congressmen and congresswomen who belong to the evangelical bench. Data collected in these sources were submitted to content analysis. Such analysis showed that evangelic congressmen and congresswomen and their values have been increasingly influential in the spaces where public policies that aim to protect sexual minorities and to reduce gender inequality are formulated. They do so by using different strategies. One of them is spreading “moral panic”, as one can see in the debates about a program of prevention of homophobia formulated to be implemented in the national public school system. In this case, they managed to bring to the policy making debate different organized religious and non-religious groups as well as concerned citizens that believed that program could render their children homosexual or transgender. By doing so, they succeed in forcing the federal government to postpone the launching of the program, what ultimately led to its cancellation; and defeated the progressive groups in the parliament, NGOs, scholars etc. that were backing that program. Another strategy is supporting the federal government in its economic agenda and asking, in return, for access to important committees that deal with the formulation of sexual and reproductive rights and gender equality legislation in the Legislative and Executive powers. The election of a pastor to preside over the Federal House of Representatives Human Rights Commission, in 2013, which was historically presided by leftist congressmen and congresswomen, offers a good instance of the growing power of evangelicals in the formulation of public policy in Brazil in the abovementioned fields.

Session 4 Policy Formulation in Theory and Practice

Friday, June 30th 08:15 to 10:15 (Block B 4 - 1)


Mukherjee Ishani - im49@cornell.edu - Institute of Water Policy - Singapore

Between the idea and the reality: what influences public policy development?

Bolton Mitzi - mitzi.bolton@gmail.com - Australian National University mitzi.bolton@anu.edu.au - Australia

There is a gap between what public decision makers set out to achieve and what is realised. What is considered to be best practice and what has been agreed in terms of general policy concepts is clear, yet this clarity is commonly lacking in the outcomes of public decisions. The reasons for this are numerous and have, individually, been documented in the literature many times.  However, few of these considerations appear to have taken a holistic view, despite public decision makers operating in a world where all or many of these factors operate in concert. The literature and public practice proffer many potential solutions yet, these too require further consideration in terms of how they can complement the overall practice of public administration.


The gap between the idea conceived and the reality realised can be minimised by understanding the factors that create that gap in a holistic sense. This view will enable the further identification, development and demonstration of solutions to assist public administrators to deliver the outcomes their citizens demand and their governments were elected to achieve.


How decision-makers do the ‘right choice’? Assessing instruments selection between legitimacy and instrumentality: evidence from the Secondary Education policy in Italy (1994-2014)

Giliberto Capano - giliberto.capano@unibo.it - University of Bologna - Italy

Andrea Lippi - lippi@unifi.it - Department of Political and Social Sciences, University of Florence - Italy

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In the recent years an emerging stream of literature focused on the instrument selection as a driving question in policy design and public policy studies. Really, inside the studies on policy instruments the attention by scholars gradually moved from the question ‘what’ an instrument is to ‘how’ it has been adopted by policy makers. Hence, an increasing attention has been paid by scholars on the political, institutional and cognitive dimensions that influence decision makers while choosing a policy instrument mediating between their preferences and the context’s pressures. On this issue, a recent  typology,  proposed by Capano and Lippi (Policy Sciences, 2016) assumes two main factors in terms of which the selection of instruments is channeled and assessed: legitimacy and instrumentality. The boundaries created by how decision-makers perceive these two dimensions mean that only four selection patterns can be chosen by decision-makers: hybridization, stratification, contamination or routinization.

The paper aims at providing a test of these four patterns applied to a specific field analysis; thus the main goal of the paper is to supply the current theoretical insights on the instruments selection with a methodological completion by variables and indicators. The empirical base for this reasoning is represented by a time series analysis of tools selection in Secondary Education policy in Italy along 20 years from 1994 to 2014. The methodological exercise will be focused on the main decisions (acts and regulation in general) occurred in the educational reforms and the means-ends matching pursued by policy makers across four  Cabinets. The analysis will concern decision taken on 5 different issues: (i) governance of the educational system and institutional autonomy, (ii) recruitment and career of the teachers; (iii) public/private divide. Document analysis and in depth interviews to past Ministers, Cabinet’s Chief Executives and High Officers will support the analysis.



A Game Theoretic Model of Blame Avoidance and Inaction

Ching Leong - chingl@gmail.com - Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore - Singapore

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One of the enduring puzzles about the management of water and other environmental resources is sustained under-investment despite their critical importance. This paper builds a simple game theoretic model to bring together two emerging lines of research– first that the blame-adverse nature of governments leads them to avoid tackling these issues which are perceived to have low pay offs; and second the paradox of social resilience by which acts of coping with natural disasters and adverse events lead to a self-perception of resilience. While the motivations behind blame aversion are well-researched, how paradox of social resilience contributes to policy under-reaction is little understood. Using a quantitative investigation of narratives of a 10-year delay behind the Melamchi Water Project in Kathmandu, Nepal, this paper reveals the dynamics underlying enduring inaction. It finds that a self-perception of resilience leads to narratives of low emotional intensity or “valence”, which in turn feeds the perception of low pay offs for governments. This accentuates motivations of blame aversion, creating a vicious cycle of inaction. In Kathmandu, this self-perception of resilience is due partly to the coping mechanisms provided by a large informal water vending market.  This paper suggests that one way of breaking this cycle is to increase the emotional intensity of the narratives, by focussing on the true coping costs of the delay in water supply, as well as the social construction of the policy. Our game model predicts that this will be generally true of policies with low negative valence – that is, in most environmental policies.


Keywords:  Water policies, public perceptions, social resilience, Q methodology



Policy-Making for the Long Run: How Actors’ Considerations of Long Term Policy Effects Influence Policy Formulation

Philipp Pechmann - philipp.pechmann@ps.au.dk - Department of Political Science, Aarhus University - Denmark

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In this paper, I investigate how strategic considerations of the long term effects of public policies by political actors influence how these actors formulate public policies.


The literature on policy effects, popularized for example by Paul Pierson (1993, 2005), typically assumes that long term effects of public policies are unintended by-products of policy making that unfold over time. Policies can, for example, impact power relations between different societal groups and empower some while disadvantaging others, they can shape or create constituencies and their interests, and they can impact political norms and beliefs. However, information scarcity, time constraints, the need to delegate, and the increasing complexity of the social world, it is assumed, render it almost impossible for actors to anticipate the long term effects of policies. Instead, they give rise to a variety of unintended or unanticipated long term effects. In this vein, policy-making and intentional policy design is often understood more as a responsive, reactive problem-solving activity with a short time horizon in which policy makers strategically select policy instruments in order to address specific problems in the here and now.


In contrast to this, I argue that political actors strategically consider and try to anticipate or design – to the degree possible - long-term effects of public policies during policy formulation. Importantly, this effect is irrespective of whether actors can successfully anticipate or design long term policy effects, since the mere consideration of long-term effects and attempts at designing them will have an actual influence on policy formulation. Literature on agency supports this focus on long-term, future-oriented policy-making. It suggest that we can see strategic action as composed of three temporally differently oriented elements: an iterational element informed by the past, a practical-evaluative element oriented towards the present, and a projective element oriented towards the future, a future in which policy effects unfold (Emirbayer/Mische 1998).


In this paper, I therefore investigate how strategic considerations of long term policy effects affect policy formulation. My analysis is based on two in-depth case studies of policy formulation in Germany. Study 1 is primarily based on an analysis of the documentation of parliamentary proceedings accessed in the archive of the German Bundestag and investigates the formulation of the 1985 Employment Promotion Act. Study 2 focusses on policy formulation in a more current context and is primarily based on narrative interviews (Schütze 1978) with actors involved in the formulation of the 2015 Minimum Wage Law. The addition of study 2 allows both for temporal variation and a triangulation of findings.


The contribution of my paper lies in uncovering how political actors’ strategic considerations of long term policy effects influence the formulation of public policies. Based on my investigations, I develop a typology that suggests affinities between specific context conditions, chosen policy instruments, and anticipated policy effects, and that can guide further investigations of policy formulation that take political actors’ considerations of long term policy effects into account.

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