Chapter Ten: Reflections and resolutions in drawing practical lessons from policy theories

We began this edited volume by challenging policy scholars to translate their findings to a wider audience and improve communication among academics. This volume tackled this challenge through its eight chapters that sought to draw practical lessons from various theoretical approaches.

No other book or article gathers as many theoretical perspectives with the goal of extracting practical insights, although past efforts have focused on single theoretical approaches (for example, Shipan and Volden, 2012) or synthesized lessons at a high scale of abstraction and generalizability for example, Weible et al, 2012; Cairney, 2015). In doing so, we hope to shift academic focus back towards a bugbear in public policy scholarship: relevance. Relevance has long served as a key founding aim of the field (Lasswell, 1951) but has also contributed to acrimonious debates about whether relevance should be an aim and whether the field even comes close to realising it (deLeon, 1997).

The challenge today is not whether policy theories should make their work relevant but how it should be done. This edited volume provides a number of different ways to do so. We organise them into three categories for new and experienced policy process scholars interested in translating practical lessons from policy theories.

Each chapter summarises the state of the art developments of different theories. They help new students understand the field for the first time and experienced scholars seeking to learn what each theory now represents (since many have changed dramatically since their first exposition).

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