Comparative Public Policy

Course content

In a world characterised by increasing interconnection and interdependency but also by conflict and discord, we are compelled to inquire why national systems adopt similar or divergent approaches to solving public and social problems. The ‘policy sciences’ literature offer us a toolbox of theories and concepts with which to identify and explain the role of social, economic, political and ideational factors in the policymaking and reform process. Additionally, in the face of complex and persistent policy problems, from poverty to climate change, the skills associated with policy analysis allow us to evaluate the desirability, feasibility, and effectiveness of interventions and make concrete recommendations for improvement. Consequently, this course brings together policy theory, empirical policy research, and practical policy analysis skills help students systematically analyse and compare public and social policies across different national systems and over time, and trains them to communicate policy-relevant information in a range of useful ways.

 

In sum, the course aims: 

  • To introduce students to the theories, concepts and methods with which to compare, critically understand and systematically analyse public and social policy from an international perspective; 
  • To provide students with an understanding of the complexity of making and delivering policy in a multi-level context, ranging from the local to the supra-national, and of the role of political, economic and social factors in these processes;
  • To help students acquire the practical skills to research and analyse and evaluate policies, and generate well-founded and insightful explanations and generalisations of social and public policy developments across a range of different sectors and in different national and international contexts.

 

To reflect these aims, the course is divided into two blocks, with the first seven weeks dedicated to the concepts, theories, and methods with which to understand and compare policy and policymaking, and the last seven weeks dedicated to the empirical exploration of key policy fields. The weekly content is structured as follows:

  1. Introduction: The logic of comparative policy inquiry
  2. The Three ‘I’s: Interests, Institutions, and Ideas 
  3. Key theories of the policy process
  4. Policy learning and evidence-based policymaking
  5. Multi-Level Governance and the territorial bases of policy
  6. International trends and processes in policy
  7. Critical approaches to comparative public policy
  8. Anti-poverty and family policy
  9. Social policy and pensions
  10. Healthcare policy
  11. ‘Morality’ policy
  12. Education policy
  13. Environmental policy
  14. Recap and conclusion
Education

NOTICE:

 

!! The structure of this course will be blended !! 

 

Bachelor student (2017 programme curriculum): 7.5 ECTS

Master student: 7.5 ECTS

Learning outcome

Knowledge:

On completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Identify, summarise and differentiate between key theories of the policy process;
  • Critically interpret current research in public policy by reflecting on methodological and theoretical strengths and weaknesses;
  • Describe and evaluate the role of actors, institutions and ideas in shaping policy decisions;
  • Describe current and historical international trends in policymaking in key sectors (such as health, education, and welfare).

 

Skills:

On completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Communicate policy-relevant information across a range of formats including policy briefs, blog posts, and through oral contribution to group discussion;
  • Engage in critical and theory-informed debates about policy processes and outcomes from a comparative perspective;
  • Devise and design methogologically rigorous comparative analyses of policy;
  • Compare and evaluate policies in all areas using theoretically-informed policy analysis tools.

 

Competences:

On completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Reflect on how to engage effectively in the policy process;
  • Critically evaluate a diverse range of academic and lay policy-relevant information;
  • Collaborate with peers in problem-solving and discussion tasks on topics related to policy;
  • Plan and manage a written portfolio of work on a policy topic of interest;
  • Connect key policy concepts and theories to areas of policy beyond that discussed in class.

Classes will comprise mini-lectures, small group exercises, presentations by students on the key reading or their portfolio topic, and frequent whole-group discussion.

The following are an indicative list of key readings associated with the course:

 

Dodds, Anneliese, (2018), Comparative Public Policy, 2nd ed. NY; Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

 

Cairney, Paul, (2019), Understanding Public Policy: Theories and Issues, 2nd ed. NY; Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

 

Weible, Chris M., and Paul A. Sabatier, (2018), Theories of the Policy Process, 4th ed. Boulder, CO.: Westview Press.

 

Guptak, K., (2012), “Comparing public policy: Using comparative method to advance our understanding of the policy process”, Policy Studies Journal, 40(s1): 11-26.

 

Blank, R., Burau, V., and Kuhlmann, E. (2017), Comparative Health Policy, 5th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

 

Radaelli, C.M. (2003) “The Europeanization of public policy”, in K. Featherstone and C.M. Radaelli (eds), The Politics of Europeanization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

Stone, D., and S. Ladi, (2015), ‘Global Public Policy and Transnational Administration’, Public Administration, 93(4): 839-855.

 

Capano, G., and Lippi, A. (2017) “How policy instruments are chosen: Patterns of decision makers’ choices”, Policy Sciences, 50(2): 269-293.

 

Howlett, Michael, and Jale Tosun (eds.), (2019), Policy Styles and Policy-Making: Exploring the Linkages. Oxon; NY: Routledge.

 

Radaelli, Claudio M., (2018), ‘Chapter 3: EU policies and the Europeanization of domestic policymaking’, in Hubert Heinelt and Sybille Münch (eds.), Handbook of European Policies, pp. 55-71. Edward Elgar.

 

Evans, Mark, (2004), Policy Transfer in Global Perspective. London: Taylor & Francis.

 

Cairney, Paul, and Christopher M. Weible, (2017), ‘The new policy sciences: Combining the cognitive science of choice, multiple theories of context, and basic and applied analysis’, Policy Sciences, 50: 619-627.

 

Cairney, Paul, (2016), The Politics of Evidence-Based Policy Making. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

 

Moyson, Stéphane, Peter Scholten, and Christopher M. Weible, (2017), ‘Policy learning and policy change: theorizing their relations from different perspectives’, Policy and Society, 36(2): 161-177.

 

Dunlop, Claire A., and Claudio M. Radaelli, (2018), ‘The lessons of policy learning: types, triggers, hindrances and pathologies’, Policy & Politics, 46(2): 255-272.

 

Weimer, David L. and Aidan R. Vining, (eds.), (2017), Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice. New York: Routledge.

 

Fischer, Frank, Gerald J. Miller, and Mara S. Sidney, (eds.), (2019), Handbook of Public Policy Analysis: Theory, Politics and Methods. NY; Oxon: Routledge.

 

Wilder, Matt, (2017), ‘Comparative Public Policy: Origins, Themes, New Directions’, Policy Studies Journal, 45(S1): 47-66.

 

Gottfriend, Heidi and Laura Reese, (2008), ‘Gender, policy, politics, and work: Feminist comparative and transnational research’, Review of Policy Research, 20(1): 2-20.

 

Engeli, Isabelle, and Christine Rothmayr Allison, (2014). Conceptual and Methodological Challenges in Comparative Public Policy. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Written
Oral
Individual
Collective
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
ECTS
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Portfolio
Portfolio exam
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28