Several different explanations of policy change based on notions of learning have emerged in the policy literature to challenge conventional conflict-oriented theories. These include notions of 'political-learning' developed by Heclo, 'policy-oriented learning' developed by Sabatier, 'lesson-drawing' analyzed by Rose, 'social learning' discussed by Hall and 'government learning' identified by Etheredge. These different concepts identify different actors and different effects with each different type of learning. Some elements of these theories are compatible, while others are not. This article examines each approach in terms of who learns, what they learn, and the effects of learning on subsequent policies. The conclusion is that three distinct types of learning have often been incorrectly juxtaposed. Certain conceptual, theoretical and methodological difficulties attend any attempt to attribute policy change to policy learning, but this does not detract from the important reorientation of policy analysis that this approach represents.
Public policy, Policy tools, Governing instruments, Policy design,
Although policy capacity is among the most fundamental concepts in public policy, there is considerable disagreement over its definition and very few systematic efforts try to operationalize and measure it. This article presents a conceptual framework for analysing and measuring policy capacity under which policy capacity refers to the competencies and capabilities important to policy-making. Competences are categorized into three general types of skills essential for policy success—analytical, operational and political—while policy capabilities are assessed at the individual, organizational and system resource levels. Policy failures often result from imbalanced attention to these nine different components of policy capacity and the conceptual framework presented in the paper provides a diagnostic tool to identify such capacity gaps. It offers critical insights into strategies able to overcome such gaps in professional behaviour, organizational and managerial activities, and the policy systems involved in policy-making.
The objective of this collection of essays is to gain insights into the different national-level state responses to COVID-19 around the world and the conditions that shaped them. The pandemic offers a natural experiment wherein the policy problem governments faced was the same but the responses they made were different, creating opportunities for comparison of both the kinds of policy tools being used and the factors that accounted for their choice. Accordingly, after surveying on-line databases of policy tools used in the pandemic and subjecting these to topic modelling to reveal the characteristics of a 'standard' national pandemic response, we discuss the similarities and differences found in specific responses. This is done with reference to the nature and level of policy capacity of respective governments, highlighting the critical roles played by (in)adequate preparation and lesson-drawing from past experiences with similar outbreaks or crises. Taken together the articles show how the national responses to the COVID-19 pandemic were shaped by the opportunity and capacity each government had to learn from previous pandemics and their capacity to operationalize and build political support for the standard portfolio of policy measures deployed to deal with the crisis. However, they also show how other factors such as the nature of national leadership, the organization of government and civil society, and blindspots towards the vulnerabilities of certain population segments also helped to shape policy responses to the pandemic.
New Governance Arrangements (NGAs) have emerged as a lively topic in comparative policy studies and are often proposed as solutions to complex policy problems like environmental or health protection. However, assessing the merits and demerits of particular arrangements or instrument mixes is difficult. The paper proposes a variety of tools to tackle the often-overlooked problem of identifying and inventorying the instruments found in instrument mixes and assessing their likelihood to produce optimal results. A framework is developed for evaluating the likelihood of successful implementation of NGA's that exploits the fact that new policy development is almost always constrained by previous policy choices which have become institutionalized. The degree to which this institutionalization has occurred is seen as variable and the implementation to depend on a number of well-understood processes such as increasing returns and other kinds of positive feedback; sunk costs; and incremental policy learning. The applicability of the framework is demonstrated in the context of NGAs found in the forestry sector.
Evidence‐based policy‐making represents a contemporary effort to reform or re‐structure policy processes in order to prioritize evidentiary or data‐based decision‐making. Like earlier efforts in the “policy analysis movement,” its aim is to avoid or minimize policy failures caused by a mismatch between government expectations and actual, on‐the‐ground conditions through the provision of greater amounts of policy‐relevant information. A significant factor affecting the ability of policy‐makers to engage in evidence‐based policy‐making pertains to both governmental and non‐governmental “policy analytical capacity.” That is, governments require a reasonably high level of policy analytical capacity to perform the tasks associated with managing the policy process in order to implement evidence‐based policy‐making and avoid several of the most common sources of policy failures. Recent studies, however, suggest that, even in advanced countries such as Canada, the level of policy analytical capacity found in many governments and non‐governmental actors is low, potentially contributing to both a failure of evidence‐based policy‐making as well as effectively dealing with many complex contemporary policy challenges. Sommaire: L'élaboration de politiques axée sur des éléments probants représente un effort contemporain de réforme ou de structuration des processus de politiques dans le but de donner la prioritéà la prise de décisions s'appuyant sur les preuves ou fondée sur les données. Comme pour les efforts antérieurs du « mouvement d'analyse de politiques », le but est d'éviter ou de minimiser les échecs de politiques causés par un décalage entre les attentes du gouvernement et les conditions réelles sur le terrain, grâce à la disposition de plus amples informations pertinentes aux politiques. Un facteur important touchant à l'aptitude des élaborateurs de politiques à s'engager dans une élaboration de politiques axée sur les éléments probants est liéà la « capacité d'analyse de politiques » aussi bien gouvernementale que non gouvernementale. C'est‐à‐dire que les gouvernements exigent un niveau raisonnablement élevé de capacité d'analyse de politiques en vue d'exécuter les tâches associées à la gestion du processus politique pour mettre en œuvre l'élaboration de politiques axée sur les éléments probants et éviter ainsi plusieurs sources courantes d'échecs de politiques. Néanmoins, des études récentes laissent entendre que, même dans les pays développés comme le Canada, le niveau de capacité d'analyse de politiques observé dans de nombreux gouvernements et chez un grand nombre d'acteurs non gouvernementaux est faible ; cela pourrait éventuellement contribuer à la fois à un échec de l'élaboration de politiques axées sur les éléments probants ainsi qu'à l'échec de régler efficacement de nombreux problèmes contemporains complexes en matière de politiques.
that "external perturbations" outside of the policy subsystem, characterized by some type of societal upheaval, are critical for explaining the development of profound and durable policy changes which are otherwise prevented by institutional stability. We argue that these assumptions, while useful for assessing many cases of policy change, do not adequately capture historical patterns of forest policy development in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Differences in policy development concerning state and federal regulation of private and public forest lands governing the same problem, region, and population challenge much of the prevailing orthodoxy on policy dynamics. To address this puzzle, we revisit and expand existing taxonomies identifying the levels and processes of change that policies undergo. This exercise reveals the existence of a "thermostatic" institutional setting governing policy development on federal lands that was absent in the institutions governing private lands. This thermostatic institutional arrangement contained durable policy objectives that required policy settings to undergo major change in order to maintain the institution's defining characteristics. Policy scientists need to distinguish such "hard institutions" that necessitate paradigmatic changes in policy settings from those that do not permit them. The Study of Policy DynamicsP olitical scientists studying public policy have, in the last 20 years, been involved in three projects related to the study of policy dynamics: understanding how longstanding policies might become "punctuated" and shift toward a new "equilibrium" (Jones, Baumgartner, and True 1998;Jones, Sulkin, and Larsen 2003;True, Jones, and Baumgartner 1999) and investigating the dual interaction of enduring institutions on the one hand, and subsystem coalitions on the other, in explaining and shaping this pattern of policy development (Clemens and
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