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Author: Sonja Blum

In public policy studies, today the view prevails that there are neither objective problem situations, nor can there be direct and unambiguous links from defined problems to the ‘solutions’ they require. As in Gál’s and Monostori’s (2017) argument cited above, the political definition of ‘problems’ (such as being old-aged) changes, and so does the definition of related solutions (such as the start of retirement age). This view is most pronounced from a ‘garbage-can perspective’ (Cohen et al, 1972), which highlights not only how problems and solutions are developed largely independently, but also how the classical ‘problem-solving logic’ may be reversed when there are solutions in search of (fitting) problems (Kingdon 1995; Zahariadis 2003). Yet while both problems and solutions do not just ‘exist’ but undergo processes of definition and construction, there is one decisive difference between the two: namely, while problems may be defined without connecting them to solutions, this is not the case vice versa. Policies, measures, and proposals are developed all the time, but they indispensably require a connection to a problem (or several ones) to become ‘solutions’.

While such problem–policy connections are crucial within the Multiple Streams Framework (MSF) whereby the policy process is conceptualized as three streams – problem, policy, and politics – the ‘coupling’ process itself has remained largely overlooked in the literature (Zahariadis 2003; Zittoun 2013). As is the case for other central elements of the MSF, it is often mentioned, but rarely elaborated on or systematically applied (Jones et al 2016). An essential element in the achievement of coupling is rhetoric (Dolan 2019) – in the achievement of ‘binding’ in particular, that is, the linking of problem and solution concepts, which precedes the linking of streams (see Chapter 1).

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Editors: Sonja Blum and Klaus Schubert

This comprehensive study, part of the International Library of Policy Analysis, brings together for the first time a systemic overview of policy analysis activities in Germany. Written by leading experts in the field – including informed practitioners – it outlines the development of the discipline, identifies its role in academic education and research, and examines its styles and methods. The book also focuses on the role of policy analysis for governments and parliaments, for parties, social partners, and interest groups. By offering a rich and timely analysis of policy analysis in Germany, this book is a valuable resource for academic exchange and for teaching, particularly in the fields of political science, social sciences, economics and geography. Moreover, by its broad, comprehensive understanding of ‘policy analysis’, the book will be of practical relevance and shape the debate for the future development of policy analysis in Germany and the different spheres where it is practised.

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Background:

While current public policy scholarship can take advantage of a decades-long accumulated knowledge base on the relationship between evidence and policy, it is hard to keep the overview across different literatures. Over time, the ever more differentiated branches of public policy research have developed their own perspectives, languages, and conceptualisations of ‘evidence’ and ‘policy’, as well as their connections.

Aims and objectives:

Existing reviews have stressed that studies often do not provide clear definitions of ‘policy’ or ‘evidence’, and have outlined the importance of investigating underlying conceptualisations in the literature. Against this backdrop, this article investigates how present-day public policy scholarship approaches the concepts of ‘evidence’, ‘policy’, and their connections.

Methods:

We conducted a qualitative systematic review following the PRISMA method. Using a keyword search, we identified relevant articles (n=85) in eleven Q1 and Q2 policy journals included in Web of Science in the period 2015 to 2019.

Findings:

The synthesis confirms that ‘evidence’ and ‘policy’ are often not clearly defined, yet different trends regarding understandings can be identified. There are two approaches taken on the evidence and policy connection: a ‘use of evidence’ or a ‘use for policy’ perspective.

Discussion and conclusions:

Research on evidence and policy would benefit from more explicit conceptual discussions. This review may provide a heuristic for explicating conceptual choices when working with the notions of ‘evidence’, ‘policy’, and their connections. It also suggests several avenues that are worth exploring in future research.

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There is limited knowledge about eligibility for leave in general, and about leave rights of parents less securely attached to the labour market in particular. Consequently, social inequalities in access to leave rights remain hidden, which may be particularly pronounced in countries where stable employment is a principal condition to exercise leave rights. In this chapter, we develop an innovative conceptual framework based on the social rights literature, which takes into account how access to Parental Leave benefits is granted (in-) dependent of labour market position. Four ideal types are presented: the universal parenthood model, the selective parenthood model, the universal adult-worker model, and the selective adult-worker model. Finally, we illustrate these types with three country case examples of Parental Leave systems.

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Authors: Sonja Blum and Klaus Schubert

Today, policy analysis is not only one of the most important sub-disciplines of political science in Germany, but also an integral part of the international discipline and has contributed significantly to scientific debates, theory and methods developments. This introductory chapter develops the argument and the structure of the book, basic concepts and a common terminology. It also gives a short introduction to policy analysis in Germany, its developments and main characteristics. In so doing, it develops an argument running like a common thread through this book, namely that there is a typically German dualism between academic and applied policy analysis. Also focusing on this aspect, the introductory chapter discusses some of the main findings and arguments from the contributions to this book. At the end of the chapter, future prospects are discussed, not least with the aim to identify possible ways to extenuate the divide between academic and applied policy analysis.

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