Course 1: The Public Policy Process in Critical Perspective: Comparing Empirical and Deliberative Approaches by Frank Fischer
This course and the corresponding workshops examine the theory of the public policy process, with an emphasis on political, conceptual and methodological issues. It begins with an exploration of the evolution of theory development in public policy studies, including an emphasis on the interplay among competing analytical criteria--efficiency, equity and legitimacy—in policy decision processes. The discussion then turns to an investigation of each phase of the policymaking process, from the politics of agenda setting (emphasizing interest group competition, parties, movements and the media), policy formulation (focused on policy advice, cost-benefit analysis and epistemic policy communities), policy decision-making and adoption (concerned with state imperatives and models of power), implementation (dealing with policy design, bureaucratic politics, and program recipients), and policy evaluation and learning (comparing technocratic versus constructivist and collaborative approaches). In the process, the courses give special attention to the kinds of knowledge and inquiry appropriate to each phase of the policy process. At various points, it also considers the role of methodological approaches and theoretical models, including the advocacy coalition model, rational choice theory, the liberal-institutional perspective, the discourse approach, and the deliberative-orientation “argumentative turn.” Contemporary methodological debates between quantitative and qualitative approaches to policy inquiry are also explored.
Course 2: The Political Process of Policymaking by Philippe Zittoun
This course revolves around Professor Zittoun's book "The Political Process of Policymaking." Its main objective is to identify and discuss how we can grasp the political dimension of the policy process by observing and defining the struggles around the problem but also around the meaning of proposed solutions. Special attention will be paid to the building of coalitions, existing powerful dimensions, and the different challenges solutions encounter along their path. Why do some solutions manage to make it to the decision-making process whereas others fail? Under what conditions and at what price do solutions make it to the solution agenda? How do some actors succeed in "domesticating" "wicked" problems? First, this course will explore the career of a public problem, from emergence to agenda setting. Second, it will explore the career of the proposal as it passes through different arenas such as bureaucracy, the advice system, and the political arena. Policy problems and solutions will be observed on the basis of three games: the game of language where a statement takes on meaning and becomes a problem/solution, the game of actors where this definition is stabilized through coalition building, and the game of power through the formation of multiple levels of power. The course will draw on the studies undertaken by key authors in the field and will explore how they perceive the political dimension in the policy process. It will also propose different concepts and approaches to help grasp the policy process from a different perspective.
Course 3: Learning about Policy learning: concepts, methods and design by Claudio Radaelli
There is considerable scientific and practical interest in policy learning, but what is it exactly, how do we measure it, and are all forms of learning efficient and legitimate? When do policy-makers learn the good or bad lessons, design the smart or incorrect incentives, and listen to the best or worst teachers? Who legitimates these teachers by the way? In this highly interactive, practical course we will address these questions by building a robust conceptual framework grounded on theories of knowledge utilisation, psychology and policy analysis. I am very excited to give you the full picture of how the framework emerged during the ERC project ALREG, taking you in the back office of the social scientist, and showing how I coped with some of the problems raised by reviewers and colleagues. This will provide you with transferable skills, enabling you to see things from the perspective of the author who is submitting a manuscript on policy learning, the reviewers that provide comments and critiques, and the institutions that fund research. In the first part of the course, I will introduce you to the research puzzles and the solutions developed with my co-authors, first of all Claire Dunlop at the University of Exeter. But then, what do we do with conceptual frameworks, once we have generated one? We will apply it to case studies, appraise the empirical methods available and how they relate to the causality of learning and policy change. Along the way, we will find different characters: the teacher, the expert, the facilitator, the hired-gun … but we will also look at learning in different circumstances, for example when policy-makers bargain, or when public managers cultivate implementation and rule enforcement. In the final sessions we will discuss whether it is possible to design governance architectures for learning and the normative implications of learning as a theoretical lens on the policy process.
Course 4: Ambiguity and Public Policy by Nikolaos Zahariadis
Policy makers often don’t know where they stand on particular issues; yet they still need to make decisions that affect their voters. How do they do that? What is the process they follow and what are the consequences for efficiency, legitimacy and accountability? The course gives answers to these questions by examining the multiple streams framework (MSF) of the policy process. We begin with the notion of ambiguity and its place in public policy. We then look at the framework’s antecedent, the garbage can model of organizational decision-making, and its effect on theories of collective choice. The discussion then turns to an investigation of phases of the policymaking process, from the politics of agenda-setting to implementation and evaluation. In the process, we pay attention to the interaction of the five elements of MSF – problems, policies, politics, policy entrepreneurs, and policy windows – with specific applications in different national and international contexts. The aim is not only to introduce the development and application of MSF in empirical context but to also highlight its strengths and limitations. At various points in the discussion, we explore methodological concerns and implications for theories of the policy process, power politics, Europeanization and democratic governance.