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The preconference is a one-day event during which courses and workshops are given by renowned international scholars for PhD Students and early career scholars. It takes place the day before the conference (Tuesday 25th June 2019) at Concordia University Campus, Montreal. Each participant can follow a full day course/workshop or 2 half days course/workshop.


The registration for the preconference must be done during the registration for the conference. The participant can select the option "Preconference" and indicate by order of preference (from 1 to 3) the full day or the 2 half days course or workshop he/she wants to follow. As there is a limited number of seats available, we cannot guarantee that you will receive your first choice.


The Fees of the preconference is 100€ including the attendance, lunch and two coffee breaks. 





HALF DAY COURSE / WORKSHOP: Objectivity and Subjectivity in Policy Research by Amanda WOLF (Victoria University of Wellington)

Maximum number of students: 15

Scientific evidence (the ‘gold-standard’ for which is the randomised-control trial), analyses of big data or costs and benefits and actuarial models and other similar approaches occupy a privileged position in the policy decision-making environment due to arguments for the superiority of ‘objective’ methods. This course starts with a critical examination of that claim to privilege and exposes some often overlooked limitations and ambiguities associated with it. Yet even if subjectivity is inevitable, some hold that its exercise should be restricted to the political or decision-making process. Accordingly, the course next turns to a critical examination of subjectivity in policy research and the tensions researchers may experience when it comes to exercising their subjective judgment in an inhospitable environment. The prospective comparative case study exemplifies methodologically the interaction of subjectivity and objectivity in policy-relevant research. In this type of casework, a researcher uses existing policy experiences as ‘sources’ to develop hypothetical pictures of future improved outcomes in a ‘target’ situation to which lessons from the sources have been applied (Wolf & Baehler, 2018). The success of the method hinges on the researcher’s ability to judge what is relevant, to gain new ideas worth thinking further about, to integrate a wide range of their own and others’ experiences and so on. This method illustrates the subjective exercise of abduction and phronesis in research. Participants will workshop how their judgment is already, and could or should be, employed in their current research. Additional methods will be introduced according to participants’ interests.

Reference: Wolf, A., & Baehler, K., (2018). Learning transferable lessons from single cases in comparative policy analysis. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, 20 (4), pp. 420–434


FULL DAY COURSE: An Introduction to the Narrative Policy Framework by Michael JONES (Oregon State University), Elizabeth SHANAHAN (Montana State) and Thomas BIRKLAND (NC State)

Maximum number of students: 25

The Narrative Policy Framework (NPF) is a systematic approach to narrative policy analysis that allows both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. While developed only in 2010, the NPF has seen rapid adoption, appearing in academic journals such as Critical Policy Studies, Policy Sciences, the Policy Studies Journal, as well as being featured in Paul Sabatier’s and now Chris Weible’s classic Theories of the Policy Process, 3rd & 4th editions. This lecture offers a three-hour rendering of the NPF with the aim of providing students both breadth and depth sufficient to begin to apply the framework within their own research. Topics covered include an overview of the framework, experimental NPF applications, content analysis, and the NPF, as well as qualitative methods and the NPF. The lecture culminates in an opportunity for students to actively engage some of the NPF’s commonly employed methodologies.


HALF DAY COURSE: Policy Change: Populism as a Case of Tectonic Change? by Leslie PAL (Carleton University)

Maximum number of students: 15

The turbulence of the last decade, particularly its manifestation in “populism,” has challenged many of our theories of policy-making and policy change, which typically rest on gradualist foundations. Agenda-setting takes place in an ordered way, even under the assumptions of the multiple streams approach. Analysis is driven by empirical evidence and (mostly) rational debate. Implementation is conducted by trusted state and non-state actors, according to principles of efficiency and feasibility. Populist movements, demands, and governments have up-ended normal policy-making: agendas are crowded with unexpected and (for many) unwelcome priorities; analysis is displaced by emotion and experts mocked; and state agencies and organs are deeply distrusted.

The workshop is organized around three themes. The first is populism itself as a phenomenon–what does it mean, what are its contours, and what challenges does it pose to “normal” policy-making in liberal democratic systems? The second is theories of policy change and how well they equip us to understand the change that is tectonic, not incremental. The third is the impact of populism on policy making, both in terms of processes and agendas. Are the impacts visible, are they minor or major, and will they last?

Participants are encouraged to discuss their own work as it bears on any of these themes. They will be invited to submit short (100 word) abstracts for circulation before the workshop.


HALF DAY COURSE: Deliberative Policy Analysis and the Argumentative Turn by Frank FISCHER (Humboldt University)

Maximum number of students: 25


This half day course presents the history and development of the argumentative turn in public policy, including the numerous related developments over the 25 years. As a challenge to the dominant (neo)positivist approach to policy studies, the topics range from Habermas’s critical theory of communication action, Foucault’s discursive politics, Toulmin’s argumentation theory and rhetorical analysis, discourse coalitions, deliberative democracy, participatory governance, participatory research and local knowledge, among others. The discussion then turns to an examination of the reflexive epistemological foundations upon which the approach rests, social constructivism and interpretive social science in particular. Moving from epistemology to methodology, the method of deliberative policy analysis is presented, along with various institutional innovations that have accompanied it. The uses of the perspective for policy studies generally are illustrated through a comparison with the advocacy coalition theory. Finally, the course concludes with one or two specific case studies related to participatory governance, discursive politics and deliberative policy analysis.


HALF DAY COURSE: The Politics of Policymaking, a Pragmatist Construcvist Approach by Philippe ZITTOUN (University of Lyon)

The course proposed to examin the main research question, concepts and theory elements of a construcvist and pragmatist approach to study empirically the Policy Process. Inspired by Pragmatist Philosophy (Dewey, James), by Pragmatist Sociology (Boltanski, Latour) and by the linguistic Turn in Social Sciences, this approach proposes to observe the policymakers "in action" involved in the policy process to impose a policy solution in the policy process and to understand it as a political activities. This approach proposes to take into account the cognitive skill and the discursive capacity of the stakeholders and the policymakers not only to define a wicked problem but also  to transform it as treatable problem which can be solved and to match it to a policy solution. 

Ref. P. Zittoun, "The political process of Policymaking, a pragmatist approach on public policy"


HALF DAY METHODOLOGICAL WORKSHOP: Qualitative Interview of Policymakers by Philippe ZITTOUN (University of Lyon)

Maximum number of students: 12


This workshop proposes to discuss and to train participants to the art and craft of qualitative interview of Policymakers. After discussing on the epistemologic  and the methodological biaises of the Qualitiative Interview, the workshop proposes different practical exercices for participants to learn how to proceed. 

Ref. Becker Howard, Tricks of the Trade: How to Think about Your Research While You're Doing It, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998


HALD DAY COURSE: Global Policy and Transnational Administration by Diane STONE (University of Canberra and University of Warwick) and Kim MOLONEY (Murdoch University) 

This workshop provides a public administration and policy studies perspective on our emergent transnational public sector. One objective is to stretch public administration concepts familiar to the domestic space to understand the administrative life within transnationally-administered spaces. For example, this includes questions about the interaction of global public good with administrative sovereignty, administrative law, evaluation, and accountability. Another objective is to advance and extend the existing tool-box of policy concepts and theories into new domains of policy making beyond the state to consider:

  • the policy entrepreneurship of international associations;
  • the financing and delivery of public goods and services by global public-private partnerships,
  • the international policy coordination roles of trans-governmental networks,
  • the fast growing new breed of so-called ‘informal’ international organisations like the G20, and
  • the accountability, administrative law, and whistleblowing challenges of international organizations.

Participants in this half day workshop will develop a greater appreciation of how policy studies and public administration are moving away from foundations in ‘methodological nationalism’ to the development of approaches and conceptsthat capture the dynamics of the growing global public sector through incorporation of  ‘methodological transnationalism’ in our analysis.


HALF DAY COURSE: Agenda Setting and Interest Groups by Laura CHAQUES (IBEI)

This workshop provides a general overview of the current state of agenda setting theory. The first part of the session reviews the most influential approaches to the study of agenda setting, from the policy streams, punctuated equilibrium and policy advocacy coalition frameworks. The goal is to compare how these approaches explain agenda dynamics from a critical perspective. From here, the workshop explores the applicability of these approaches across political venues, countries, time and levels of governance. The last part of the workshop offers a general overview of the different methodological approaches to the study of agenda setting. The course is offered to Master and PhD students willing to develop agenda setting research.


HALF DAY COURSE: Social Policy Design by Ramesh (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy)

The module offers a critical introduction to essential concepts, approaches, and analytical tools in social policy, with emphasis on developing country contexts. The objective is to improve social policies through better design based on understanding of both the innate problem and the context in which it exists. Adopting a problem-solving approach, we will explore policy strategies for addressing social problems. We will focus on the context of social policies, and the forms in which they are delivered and financed.


HALF DAY COURSE: Historical Institutionalist Approaches to Understanding Policy Development and Change by Grace Skogstad (University of Toronto)

This workshop examines the current state of research by historical institutionalist scholars to explain policy change and development over time. It gives primary attention to theorizing regarding how antecedent
policy choices affect subsequent policy development through self-reinforcing and self-undermining mechanisms of policy feedback. Under exploration are the interactive effects of policy feedback mechanisms and the broader institutional and ideational context of policy development.


HALF DAY COURSE: Analyzing Policy Elites by Patrick HASSENTEUFEL (University of Versailles)

The aim of this course is to show how it is empirically possible to analyze the key role of collective actors structured around a policy change program (“programmatic actors”) in the policy process. The proposed method (used in different empirical cases in Europe, in the USA, in Latin America, in Japan…) combines different methods from the sociology of elites (positional, reputational, relational and decisional methods) and public policy analysis (cognitive and decision analysis). It enables groups of relevant elites to be identified, their degree of cohesion to be analyzed, and the power they exert through their capacity to impose the public action programs they support to be understood. Once the trajectories of these actors have been analyzed, a more endogenous explanatory framework for the transformation of public policies can be provided.


HALF DAY COURSE: Policy instruments and governance by Charlotte HALPERN (Sciences Po, Center for European Studies and Comparative Politics)

The aim of the proposed workshop is to use policy instruments as an organizing concept, which allows to focusing attention on the process of instrumentation, namely, the set of problems posed by the choice and use of instruments (techniques, methods of operation, devices) that allow government policy to be made material and operational (Lascoumes, Le Galès 2007). This approach enables a new important set of questions to be posed in regards to evolving forms of governance within different political systems.

It questions the work done on the uses of statistics, indicators and other ranking tools (Power 1997; Espeland, Mitchell, 2008) and their effects, which are sometimes analysed in terms of “new bureaucratic revolutions” (Espeland, Sauder, 2007; Galès, Scott, 2008). Admittedly, the diffusion of such techniques, at least for the last thirty years, constitutes a fundamental trend in the restructuring of policies and governance in a number of national contexts. In relationship with the diffusion of neoliberal ideas, it also resulted into the adoption of specific instruments aimed at organizing competition, performance and sanction. Yet the sociology of numbers argues that such developments are not exclusively related to neo-liberal dynamics, but rather to the changes resulting from the rise of new technologies (computing, communication, big data). Moreover, Weberian sociologists suggest that the introduction of such techniques often results from the quest, by administrative elites, for renewed policy capabilities (Bezes et al. 2018) or in a context in which classic forms of political regulation have failed.

This workshop aims at bringing together scholars currently conducting research on policy instruments in different national contexts to examine the link between policy instrument and governance. Proposals linking the analysis of a specific case study with theoretical and / or methodological thoughts are encouraged.


HALF DAY COURSE: Policy Instruments: what they are, how they are selected, what effects they drive by Giliberto Capano (University of Bologna)

Policy instruments have become a fundamental topic in public policy. Policy instruments are the way through which governments do their job to steer policies and are the means through which they try to change the performance of existing policies. The relevance of policy instruments (in every stage of the policy-making) has progressively been recognized, above all because policy instruments represent  one of the main research questions to which policy scholars address their investigations. This workshop will focus on and collectively discuss the following issues:

  1. the types of instruments that  governments have at their disposal for doing their job;
  2. why and how policy-makers decide to adopt specific policy instruments and not others;
  3. the complex question of the policy effects and of the performance of the adopted instruments.



Registrations will be open as long as there are places available.


The Preconference registration fee is 100€. It includes two coffee breaks and one lunch. To register for the preconference, opt for this option when you register for ICPP4 (opening on January 15).




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