Comparison of Theories of the Policy Process

  title={Comparison of Theories of the Policy Process},
  author={Tanya Heikkila and Paul Cairney},
Using these criteria, our aim is to make the theoretical approaches presented in this volume comparable by identifying their key concepts, their strengths and weaknesses for understanding the policy process and advancing knowledge, and the similarities and differences in what these different theories explain and what shared knowledge can be gleaned across them.1 This takes place in the context of a policy theory field that is not conducive to systematic comparison. The literature contains a… 

Assessing Policy Process Knowledge: A Systematic Review of Three Theoretical Approaches that are Applied to Cases of Policy Change

This article seeks to understand how knowledge of the policy process, and especially of policy change, is generated. For three dominant approaches—punctuated equilibrium theory, incremental change

Connecting models of the individual and policy change processes: a research agenda

This article proposes that closer attention to models of the individual provides substantial theoretical and empirical leverage to policy studies scholars. Capturing the nuances of individual choice

The process of public policy : literature review , theoretical reflections and suggestions for future research

The objective of this article is to broaden the understanding about the policy process from the systematization of its main constructs, presenting some theoretical reflections and a research agenda.

The Politics of Policy Design

  • P. Cairney
  • Political Science
    EURO Journal on Decision Processes
  • 2021

From Multiple Streams to Muddling Through: Policy Process Theories and “Field of Vision”

  • L. Allen
  • Economics
    Open Political Science
  • 2020
A comparative analysis applied four established policy process theories to explain the emergence of the same policy outcome, a set of environmental policies associated with the North American Free Trade Agreement, while varying the analytical space or “field of vision” spatially and temporally.

Have policy process scholars embraced causal mechanisms? A review of five popular frameworks

Over 30 years, several key frameworks and theories of the policy process have emerged which have guided a burgeoning empirical literature. A more recent development has been a growing interest in the

Framework or metaphor? Analysing the status of policy learning in the policy sciences

It is argued that intellectual resources are better spent organising research on learning within existing frameworks rather than attempting to create a new stand-alone one that would contribute to the further splintering of an already fragmented field of study.

Comparative Public Policy: Origins, Themes, New Directions

Comparative public policy combines theories of the policy process with the study of political systems and specific issue areas. Yet, some ambiguity surrounds what distinguishes the comparative

The new policy sciences: combining the cognitive science of choice, multiple theories of context, and basic and applied analysis

It is time to imagine a new policy sciences. The policymaking world has moved on since its first design. So too has our understanding of it. The original policy sciences were contextualized,



Understanding and influencing the policy process

This essay translates some of the underlying logic of existing research of policy processes into a set of strategies for shaping policy agendas and influencing policy development and change. The

‘Public administration in an age of austerity’: positive lessons from policy studies

A key aim of this special issue is to demonstrate the enduring insights of public policy studies during periods of political crisis and significant policy change. This article establishes our ability

Social Construction and Policy Design: A Review of Past Applications

One of the leading theories for understanding the policy process is the theory of social construction and policy design developed by Anne Schneider and Helen Ingram. The theory incorporates the

Is There Life After Policy Streams, Advocacy Coalitions, and Punctuations: Using Evolutionary Theory to Explain Policy Change?

This article reviews the current state of public policy theory to find out if researchers are ready to readdress the research agenda set by the classic works of Baumgartner and Jones (1993), Kingdon

What is the ‘dominant model’ of British policymaking? Comparing majoritarian and policy community ideas

The aim of this article is to help identify the fundamental characteristics of the British policymaking system. It highlights an enduring conflict of interpretation within the literature. On the one

The Comparative Policy Agendas Project: theory, measurement and findings*

Abstract The Policy Agendas Project (PAP) was developed in the United States in the early 1990s as a means of collecting data on the contents of the policy agenda. The PAP coding method has

Policy Narratives and Policy Processes

The Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) has influenced a generation of policy scholars with its emphasis on causal drivers, testable hypotheses, and falsification. Until recently, the role of policy

What is Evolutionary Theory and How Does it Inform Policy Studies

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

Kingdon's Multiple Streams Approach: What Is the Empirical Impact of this Universal Theory?

While John Kingdon's Multiple Streams Approach (MSA) remains a key reference point in the public policy literature, few have attempted to assess MSA holistically. To assess its broader impact and

Introduction: epistemic communities and international policy coordination

  • P. Haas
  • Economics
    International Organization
  • 1992
How decision makers define state interests and formulate policies to deal with complex and technical issues can be a function of the manner in which the issues are represented by specialists to whom