A theory of policy advisory system quality: Hirschman 2.0 or what makes for good policy advice?

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Andrea Migone Simon Fraser University, Canada

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Michael Howlett Simon Fraser University, Canada

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Not everyone’s ideas count equally in terms of influencing and informing policy design and instrument choices. As the literature on policy advice has shown, such advice arises from many different actors interacting with each other often over relatively long timeframes. Actors within these ‘policy advisory systems’ operate within the confines of an existing set of political and economic institutions and governing norms, and each actor brings with them different interests, ideas and resources. Studying who these actors are, how they act and how their actions affect the overall nature of the advice system and its contents are critical aspects of current public policy research. But not all these elements have been equally well conceptualised or studied, especially those concerning their impact on the quality of policy advice emerging from a system. In this article, the general nature of policy advisory systems is set out, their major components described and a model of individual and organisational behaviour within them outlined inspired by a modification of the ‘exit, voice, loyalty’ rubric of Albert Hirschman. Our findings show how aggregated individual organisational behaviour along the lines suggested by Hirschman can over time result in very different kinds of advice being provided by an advisory system, with predictable consequences for its nature and quality.

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Andrea Migone Simon Fraser University, Canada

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Michael Howlett Simon Fraser University, Canada

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