Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 29 items for

  • Author or Editor: Paul Cairney x
Clear All Modify Search
Author:

National governments use evidence selectively to argue that a successful policy intervention in one local area should be emulated in others (‘evidence-based best practice’). However, the value of such evidence is always limited because there is: disagreement on the best way to gather evidence of policy success, uncertainty regarding the extent to which we can draw general conclusions from specific evidence, and local policymaker opposition to interventions not developed in local areas. How do governments respond to this dilemma? This article identifies the Scottish Government response: it supports three potentially contradictory ways to gather evidence and encourage emulation.

Open access
Author:

Kingdon’s multiple streams approach is popular because its metaphor and flexible concepts can be applied empirically in most contexts. However, this feature is also its weakness. Most scholars apply MSA superficially, without describing its metaphor’s meaning or connecting concepts to empirical results. This article solves this problem by producing one MSA narrative from a diverse collection of empirical studies. Our hero is the ‘policy entrepreneur’ who knows that the pursuit of ambitious aims such as ‘evidence-based policymaking’ requires framing a problem, having a solution ready, and exploiting the motive and opportunity of policymakers to select it.

Open access
Author:

The term ‘evolution’ is used loosely in the policy literature and its meaning is frequently unclear. This article injects clarity into debates of evolution and establishes its ability to describe and explain policy change. It has four main aims. First, it identifies the explicit and implicit uses of evolutionary theory in policy studies. Second, it considers how such accounts relate to each other and the wider literature on public policy. Third, it identifies the causal mechanisms involved in evolutionary accounts. Finally, it considers how to translate abstract theory into a more concrete set of methods and plans for empirical research.

Restricted access
Author:

The relationship between evidence and policy is far from straightforward. Perspectives range from the idealism of ‘evidence-driven policy making’ (where evidence sets the agenda and drives policy choices) to the pessimism of ‘policy-based evidence’ (where evidence is sought simply to legitimise pre-set policies). Viewing the evidence and policy relationship from either of these extremes tends to result in disillusionment: either the reality does not live up to the ideal, or evidence is considered as essentially tainted and self-serving. This chapter steers a course between these extremes by drawing on political science and policy studies to provide a more nuanced and pragmatic understanding of the relationship.

It begins with an account of idealised perspectives, and contrasts these with how things play out more typically. Idealised views tend to posit a combination of comprehensive rationality, in which policy makers can process all evidence and make consistent choices, within a policy cycle characterised by a series of well-delineated stages (Box 2.1). Policy scholars usually describe these idealised conditions to show how policy making does not really work. Instead, policy makers more typically face ‘bounded rationality’, and they respond by using rational and irrational short cuts to process information. They do so in complex policy environments that usually bear little resemblance to any idealised policy cycle.

With these points in mind, the chapter then turns to an overview of policy studies theories and concepts that help to describe and explain the complexity of real-world, policy-related activities (see Box 2.2 for a summary of some key concepts and terms).

Restricted access
Author:

The multiple streams approach (MSA) is one of policy scholarship’s biggest successes. Kingdon’s (1984) study is one the highest cited books in policy studies, there is a thriving programme of empirical application and theoretical refinement, its lessons are applied regularly in interdisciplinary studies, and it is relatively well known and enjoyed by practitioners and students (Herweg et al, 2015; 2017; Zahariadis, 2007; 2014; Jones et al, 2016).

Yet, its success is built on shaky foundations because its alleged strength – its flexible metaphor of streams and windows of opportunity – is actually its weakness. Most scholars describe MSA superficially, fail to articulate the meaning of its metaphor, do not engage with state of the art developments, and struggle to apply its concepts systematically to empirical research (Jones et al, 2016). These limitations create an acute scientific problem: most scholars apply MSA without connecting it to a coherent research agenda. Consequently, it is difficult to produce new knowledge systematically or describe with confidence the accumulated wisdom of MSA. As the special issue on ‘Practical lessons from policy theories’ shows, this problem is a feature of many policy theories which have expanded far beyond their original intentions (Weible and Cairney, 2018).

There have been some recent attempts to solve this problem by encouraging conceptual clarity via hypothesis production and testing (Cairney and Jones, 2016; Cairney and Zahariadis, 2016; Herweg et al, 2015). However, this solution only appeals to a niche audience of MSA scholars. Most readers and users of MSA draw on Kingdon’s (1984) classic metaphor without taking their research to the next level by engaging with over 30 years of subsequent research and theoretical refinement. Kingdon’s study of US federal politics in the 1980s can only take us so far.

Restricted access

Background:

Policymaking environments are multi-centric by necessity and design. Alcohol premises licensing is governed by Scottish legislation, which also allows for local autonomy.

Aims and objectives:

To describe the obstacles faced by local public health actors in seeking to influence the alcohol premises licensing system in Scotland as an example of local advocacy efforts in multi-centric policymaking.

Methods:

Snowball sampling identified and recruited 12 public health actors who were actively seeking to influence alcohol premises licensing, along with a national key informant. In-depth interviews (n=13) discussed challenges experienced and perceptions of best strategies for success. Interviews (69m average) were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed using an inductive framework approach.

Findings:

Most interviewees operated in local premises licensing arenas, influencing national legislation only through intermediaries. Challenges to engagement included: unfamiliar conventions, stakeholders and decision-making cultures, resources, data gaps, and licensing boards’ prioritisation of economic growth. Their preferred solution was a strengthening of national legislation to constrain local autonomy, but they adapted their strategies to the challenges faced.

Discussion and conclusion:

The adoption of a particular objective in national government (a public health objective for alcohol licensing) may not remove the need for effective local advocacy in a multi-centric system. Local policymakers have their own conventions, processes and views on evidence, and successful advocacy may involve diverse strategies and relationship building over time. Practitioners advocating policy change may benefit from a better understanding of prior research on how to bring about such change; scholars of such processes could better engage with this audience.

Restricted access
Authors: and

In 2016, the ‘Brexit’ campaign drew on the Westminster story to describe ‘taking back control’ of UK policy and policy making. In 2020, the UK left the EU. The complex government story suggests that UK ministers have limited knowledge and control over policy processes. The Brexit process exposed those limitations, and changed only one of many drivers of fragmented and multi-level policy making. Brexit created confusion about the new responsibilities of devolved governments, and amplified demands for a second referendum on Scottish independence. Three approaches highlight key perspectives on these issues. Policy analysis identifies how to address constitutional issues. For example, what case could people make to leave or remain in the EU? Policy studies identifies how governments manage constitutional change. What was the consequence of Brexit on policy and policy making? Critical policy analysis identifies and challenges inequitable processes and outcomes. Who won and lost from Brexit?

Restricted access
Authors: and

Over the past decade, the UK has experienced major policy and policy making change. This text examines this shifting political and policy landscape while also highlighting the features of UK politics that have endured.

Written by Paul Cairney and Sean Kippin, leading voices in UK public policy and politics, the book combines a focus on policy making theories and concepts with the exploration of key themes and events in UK politics including:

  • developing social policy in a post-pandemic world;

  • governing post-Brexit;

  • the centrality of environmental policy.

The book equips students with a robust and up-to-date understanding of UK public policy and enables them to locate this within a broader theoretical framework.

Restricted access
Authors: and

This chapter shows that studies of COVID-19 help to understand policy-making crises and the social and economic dilemmas associated with public health. COVID-19 prompted rapid and radical UK policy change. State intervention, to limit behaviour and compensate for economic inactivity, seemed inconceivable before 2020. Yet, critics of the UK government identify a too-slow and ineffective response. Three approaches highlight key perspectives on COVID-19 policy and policy making. Policy analysis identifies how to address a profound existential crisis in public health. How could UK and devolved governments define and seek to solve this problem? Policy studies identifies how governments address the problems and policy processes that they do not fully understand or control. How did governments respond? Critical policy analysis identifies and challenges inequitable processes and outcomes. Whose knowledge mattered? Who won and lost from government action and inaction?

Restricted access
Authors: and

This chapter describes the transformation of the UK state in the post-war period. Transformation describes changes including: the size of the UK state, its level of intervention in the market, and reforms to its policy-making and delivery functions. The chapter relates state transformation to two reference points: (1) the post-war consensus story describing state ownership and intervention; (2) the neoliberal story describing a trend towards state retrenchment and privatisation in favour of market forces and individual responsibility. It examines how parties make a difference in government. In a few cases, a new party has become associated with a major change in the long-term direction of travel. In most, a new party slows or accelerates the same trend. The chapter identifies the impact of devolution. Devolution as a policy has accentuated UK state transformation. However, devolved governments often opt-out of the UK government policies associated with state transformation.

Restricted access