T04P05 - Revisiting Policy Entrepreneurship

Topic : Problems and Agenda Setting

Panel Chair : Gordon Shockley - shockley@asu.edu

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

Call for papers

Session 1

Friday, June 30th 08:15 to 10:15 (Block B 5 - 5)


Elites in a Populist Age: Can Philanthropists Solve Policy Problems When Governments Don’t?

Kristin Goss - kgoss@duke.edu - Duke Sanford School of Public Policy - United States

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Global economic transformations reinforced by public policy have birthed a generation of billionaires who want to save the world. As states fail to address deep and pressing problems, empowered philanthropists have emerged with innovative policy-reform ideas. With money, clout, elite networks, and sophisticated political strategies, these people are consequential yet understudied policy entrepreneurs. However in America and around the world, these new policy entrepreneurs (whom I term “policy plutocrats”) are seeking influence precisely when “the people” are rising up against elite power and rejecting wonky solutions. What is the role of philanthropic elites in a populist age?


This paper starts by laying out the larger conundrum: how philanthropic policy entrepreneurs’ capacity and yearning to solve problems has coincided with historically high distrust of their ways. I then articulate a theory of philanthropic patronage that goes beyond the familiar theory of government failure to elaborate a theory of patronage as a solution to political failure. Finally, using an original dataset of ~200 donors and their philanthropic undertakings, I document how these policy entrepreneurs’ strategies are as likely to exacerbate political tensions as they are to ameliorate public problems. In particular, I demonstrate that policy plutocrats who focus on post-material issues tend to align themselves with liberal preferences, while plutocrats who focus on material issues align themselves with conservative preferences. In short, plutocrats are bisecting the traditional political divide in a way that is orthogonal to that of populist movements. Thus, plutocrats’ policy reform approaches are at odds with the preferences of modern populist movements of the right and the left. This misalignment may hinder philanthropists’ ability to secure lasting change.

How Policy Entrepreneurs legitimize new policies for technological catch up: The case of Iran catch up in Biopharmaceutical sector

Rouholah Hamidimotlagh - Hamidimotlagh@sharif.edu - Sharif University of Technology - Iran, Islamic Republic of

Ali Maleki - a.maleki@sharif.edu - The Research Institute for Science, Technology and Industry Policy (RISTIP) - Iran, Islamic Republic of


How Policy Entrepreneurs legitimize new policies for technological catch up

The case of Iran catch up in Biopharmaceutical sector

Hamidi Motlagh Rouholah

Maleki Ali

Research Institute for science, Technology and industrial policy (RISTIP)

Sharif University of Technology


How institutions change in the process of technological change and catch up? In neo-classical economics, technological progress, is the result of  a largely private order, based on market competition. Therefore, institutions should be regarded narrowly as supporting markets and private property rights (see chang, 2010) On the other hand, Development economists criticized a minimal non-interventionist view of role of state in rapid industrializing countries. Based on empirical evidences of NICs, they proposed versions of more interventionist views of government role as market stimulating (Lal, 1988), developmental state (Chang, 2010 ), embedded autonomy (Evans, 1995). This literature has been silent in articulating where does developmental state come from? In another word, how previous structures and policies shifted toward structures and policies which we call them developmental? In this paper, based on policy Entrepreneurship literature (Mintrom, 2009, Shockley, 2002) We contribute to economic development literature through representing a framework to conceptualize how policy entrepreneurs develop policies and institutions which have changed non-developmental government structure to a developmental type. Our main question was; How PEs legitimize new policies in the process of transforming government policies toward being developmental?

PEs are those agents that advocate policy change (Mintrom, 2009). As Mintrom (2009) argues, PEs offer some insights to existing literature on policy change such as incrementalism, institutionalism and advocacy coalition. All these areas emphasize on conditions and structures under which policies have been changed with different focuses (Mintrom, 2009). As these research streams are useful in opening the black box of state in catch up process and illuminating internal mechanisms of conflict and contradictory struggles inside the government, using policy entrepreneurship, we will be able to start from pioneer individual change agents who initiated change in structures and policies toward embracing economic development.

Based on Evidence obtained from Iran’s catch up in Biopharmaceutical sector, we identified how PEs transformed Iran’s Food and Drug Administration (IFDA) toward policies which enabled IFDA to play vital role in supporting Biopharmaceutical catch up. We identified different legitimizing strategies. Among these strategies, Anchoring was the most important. In anchoring PEs anchor their policy proposals at the level of the sector to the legitimated institutional logics (Freedland and Alford, 1991) outside the sector at national and international level.

Some references:

Friedland, R., & Alford, R. R. 1991a. Bringing society back in: Symbols, practices and institutional contradictions.         

Chang, Ha-Joon. "How to ‘do’a developmental state: political, organisational and human resource requirements for the developmental state." Constructing a democratic developmental state in South Africa: Potentials and challenges (2010): 82-96.

Evans, Peter B. Embedded autonomy: states and industrial transformation. Vol. 25. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

Lal, Sanjaya, and Morris Teuba. "Market-Stimulating." Technology Policies in Developing Countries: A Framework with Examples from East Asia. World Development (1998): V26.

Mintrom, Michael. "Policy entrepreneurs and the diffusion of innovation." American journal of political science (1997): 738-770.

Shockley, Gordon, Peter M. Frank, and Roger R. Stough. "Toward a theory of public sector entrepreneurship." NCIIA 7th Annual Meeting, Boston. 2002.


Street Level Bureaucrats, Modes of Local Governance and Policy Entrepreneurs: The Case of Waste Separation in Israel

Neomi Frisch Aviram - neomi.frisch82@gmail.com - University of Haifa - Israel

Nissim Cohen - NissimCohen@poli.haifa.ac.il - University of Haifa - Israel

Itai BEERI - itaibeeri@poli.haifa.ac.il - University of Haifa - Israel

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Public administration literature has analysed the influence of both street level bureaucrats and policy entrepreneurs on policy outcomes from various perspectives and in various domains. While the former affect outcomes through implementation practices, policy entrepreneurs are considered players who influence outcomes by promoting desirable policies.

Street level bureaucrats are frontline workers who interact daily with citizens. They provide public goods and services for citizen-clients, while enforcing and implementing dictated policies and regulations. In contrast, policy entrepreneurs exploit opportunities to influence policy outcomes to maximize their self-interests – without having the necessary resources required for achieving this goal alone. They are not satisfied with merely promoting their self-interests within institutions that others have established. Rather, they try to influence a given reality to create new horizons of opportunity using innovative ideas and strategies. Whether they come from the private, public or third sectors, one of their defining characteristics is their willingness to invest their resources – time, energy, reputations and sometimes money – in the hopes of a future return. A significant part of a policy entrepreneur’s strategy is setting the agenda by offering alternatives for dealing with a problem. To do this, they identify a problem, find a solution, and seek support for the idea they want to promote.

Due to the high level of energy and assertiveness required to accomplish these goals, the literature on policy entrepreneurs has focused mainly on high-level decision makers and ignored low and middle-level. However, in the last decade, several articles have linked street level bureaucrats with policy entrepreneurs, resulting in a new category called street level bureaucrat policy entrepreneurs. This category highlights the fact that street level bureaucrats can adopt entrepreneurial strategies via implementation practices. These important efforts, however, focus on the policy implementation stage, when a policy exists and street level bureaucrats must convert it into action.

While most studies on policy entrepreneurs focus on the influence of individuals on policy outcomes, many of them neglect the institutional context. In this vein, is a new institutional setting a window of opportunity that policy entrepreneurs can use? If so, how? Examples of such institutional factors include the transition in modes of local governance from traditional hierarchical administration systems to governance systems.

This article connects the theoretical concepts of street level bureaucrats, policy entrepreneurs and the mode of local governance, and presents two theoretical arguments. The first argument is that street level bureaucrats may act as policy entrepreneurs and affect policy making. To discuss this claim we will analyse the motivations and strategies of street level bureaucrats acting as policy entrepreneurs. The second argument assumes that the mode of local governance in which the street level bureaucrats act affects their ability to act as policy entrepreneurs.

In order to test these claims, we examine the characteristics of governance in local authorities where street level bureaucratic policy entrepreneurs act. Specifically, we focus on the treatment of waste separation in local authorities in Israel from the point of view of environmental inspectors.

Session 2

Friday, June 30th 10:30 to 12:30 (Block B 5 - 5)


Counterfactuals and Punctuated Equilibrium Theory: Finding Evidence of Policy Entrepreneurship

Gordon Shockley - shockley@asu.edu - Arizona State U. - United States

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How do we know when entrepreneurship has occurred in policy arenas when ready proxies commonly used in market-entrepreneurship research (e.g., patent density or number of start-ups) are not available?  We propose using counterfactuals and punctuated equilibrium theory to find evidence of entrepreneurship in non-market contexts. Counterfactuals are robust in the analysis of cases involving “a small number of cases and problems of control” (Chwieroth 2002, p. 309) or “when experimental control and replication are not possible” (Fearon 1991, p. 171).   Baumgartner and Jones’ (1993; 2002) punctuated equilibrium theory for policy studies (PET) is an “evolutionary” theory of policy change that refers to long periods of stability in a policy domain with only incremental change (i.e., equilibrium) interrupted by short periods of rapid change (i.e., punctuation), a diachronic movement that often takes the form of an “S”-shaped curve.  Premised on the “causal functionality” of entrepreneurship posited by classical entrepreneurship theorists, we argue that (1) entrepreneurial opportunities exist in periods of instability in non-market contexts and (2) successful entrepreneurship has a stabilizing effect in non-market contexts. 

Some of the weaknesses in policy entrepreneurship scholarship, and what to do about them

Caner Bakir - cbakir@ku.edu.tr - Koc University - Turkey

Darryl Jarvis - djarvis@ied.edu.hk - Hong Kong Institute of Education - Hong Kong, (China)

If individual entrepreneurs in the public sector play a key role in policy/institutional change, we need to understand what factors enable entrepreneurship in macro and micro-level contexts. This article argues that explaining and exploring the interactions among various contexts and agents should be at the heart of research on policy/institutional entrepreneurship bringing about policy (institutional) change. It identifies has four main weaknesses and makes suggestions in explaining and understanding policy/institutional entrepreneurship. The first weakness relates to macro-level context: structure and institution concepts are combined or conflated in the previous literature; this fails to appreciate their valuable analytical conceptual value in understanding their interactions with one another as well as with actors. The second main weakness of the policy entrepreneurship literature is that it ignores how complementarities arising from macro-level contexts inform actions of entrepreneurs that bring about change. In addition to the lack of engagement of entrepreneurship with the macro-level context, the third main weakness in the literature is the lack of emphasis on micro-level context: agency-level enabling conditions that enable public sector entrepreneurship. The final weakness include lack of transparent, rigorous inductive qualitative research design where we cannot see how the research progressed from raw data to analyses which precede the theorizing process. To enhance the research on policy entrepreneurship and institutional change, there is a need for researchers to consider a ‘contextual view of policy entrepreneurship’. This paper argues that rigorous, inductive qualitative research design coupled with comprehensive understanding of the interactions between the context and entrepreneurship in public sector is likely to remedy shortcomings repeatedly attributed to public policy and institutional theory: their limited analysis of the agency of actors embedded in various contexts in the institutionalisation processes.





Policy entrepreneurship in Indonesia: A case study in the bureaucracy reform through auction office policy in Jakarta Province

Tri Rainny Syafarani - trirainnysyafarani@yahoo.com - Murdoch University - Australia

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Policy entrepreneurship in Indonesia:

A case study in the bureaucracy reform through auction office policy in Jakarta Province



Tri Rainny Syafarani


Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University





This paper presents an analysis of policy entrepreneurship during Joko Widodo’s administrations in Indonesia. The focus of this paper is Widodo’s Governorship in Jarkarta Province (2010-2014). The paper utilizes the framework of Multiple Streams outlined by Kingdon (1995) to critically analyse and evaluate the role of policy entrepreneur in the policy process by examining a range of reforms in Indonesia. The focus of this paper is the introduction of an “auction office” in Jakarta Province, developed and implemented by Joko Widodo as a new method for the recruitment of public officials. This paper highlights insights from a range of key bureaucratic officials in the Indonesian bureaucracy in relation to the effectiveness of this reform process. The “auction office” provided a new method for the public official recruitment for the street level bureaucracy that had never be applied in Jakarta. This study argues that the success and effectiveness of policy entrepreneurship, particularly in the policymaking process of the “auction office” in Jakarta, have been influenced by several factors. First, Widodo’s prior life experiences, executive position, personal characteristics and his role in administration positioned his credentials as a policy entrepreneur.  Second, Widodo’s efforts in proposing the new regulation of public official appointments were viewed as not being within central law at the national level and therefore there was little justification to run the new Jakarta provincial regulation. However, Widodo as a policy entrepreneur provided a strong argument that the new method of the auction office was indeed acceptable within the existing rules. Third, the idea of this new official recruitment method was an integral administrative reform, as Widodo positioned Jakarta's bureaucracy as an agenda priority. The paper argues therefore that the success of policy entrepreneurship in Jakarta was closely linked to Widodo’s credentials and previous successes.  The paper also positions this success as the precursor to Widodo’s Presidential elevation to the national level in Indonesia.


Organizations as Policy Entrepreneurs

Ola El-Taliawi - ola_g@u.nus.edu - National University of Singapore

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Agenda setting is one of the most important phases of the policymaking process, because it
essentially determines which policy issues advance through the “agenda universe” to reach the
government’s “decision agenda” (Birkland, 2006), and which issues do not. During that process,
many actors are involved and powerful dynamics take place. According to Kingdon’s Model of
Policy Streams, “policy entrepreneurs” are key figures active in the policy community, who take
advantage of fleeting moments of open “policy windows” to advocate for a certain position. They
invest their time, energy and resources, and they have no single formal or informal position in the
political system. Their role has been highlighted by Kingdon John (1995) as central to moving issues up on the agenda. However,
Kingdon has identified “policy entrepreneurs” in his work as individual actors; citing examples of
cabinet secretaries, senators, economists, and others. Additionally, in so far, policy entrepreneurs
are most often identified by researchers in the literature as individuals (Weissert, 1991). The
increasing role organizations are playing is often overlooked, despite their likelihood of impacting
policy-making at the global level. According to Stone (2001), think tanks aid the cross-national
policy transfer of ideas and policies by targeting legislatures and politicians as their primary
audience; they also play mediation and brokerage roles. Therefore, this paper aims to fill this
existing gap in the literature by investigating the extent to which the United Nations Organization, in the context of the Kyoto Protocol, both played the role and fit the profile of a “policy entrepreneur” as depicted by Kingdon. This will pave the way for future research on the role of public relations firms, lobby groups, think tanks and others in the agenda setting stage.

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