Behavioral change and reform challenges
Assessing and explaining behavioral change challenges
This part of project focuses on general interest public policies that aim at inducing behavioral change in mass populations in relation to ‘wicked problems’. Specifically, it compares the success of drink-driving and climate-adaptation programs in the Netherlands and the UK over the course of a decade. The cases are situated in two different policy domains, with different policy traditions, configurations of organized interests, knowledge bases and intervention repertoires. Examining two types of policy endeavour in two countries allows us to partly control for and partly gauge the impact of institutional and cultural factors.
Assesing and explaining reform challenges
This part of project focuses on explaining the difference between major general interest public policy reforms that endure and become institutionalized after their initial adoption, and those that are reversed, watered-down or otherwise rendered ineffectual. This study uses data on policy and institutional endurance as the key success measure. It builds upon the path-breaking U.S.-based study of Patashnik* comparing cases of sustained and abandoned/reversed reforms, to gain a more precise insight into the mechanisms that account for different levels of policy endurance. A comprehensive inventory of reforms adopted in the Netherlands between 1980 and 2000 in four policy areas (health policy; financial regulation; housing policy; and public utilities) will be compiled, tracking their longevity through to 2015. Four pair-wise comparisons of successful vs failed reforms in policy area will be constructed. In-depth process-tracing of each case will be performed, and fuzzy set QCA methodology will be employed on all eight cases to test for the prevalence of explanatory conditions gleaned from both the literature and from stakeholder interviews.
*Patashnik, E. (2008), Reform at Risk, Princeton: Princeton University Press
Work in progress:
- Great Policy Successes. This is a forthcoming volume edited by SPG members Mallory Compton and Paul 't Hart, and to be published by Oxford University Press. For book proposal please see here.
- Successful Public Policy. SPG members Paul ‘t Hart and Joannah Luetjens, together with Michael Mintrom, are involved in a forthcoming edited volume specifically focusing on Antipodean success stories. The volume is to be published by ANU ePress. For book proposal please see here.
-The Durability of Policy Reforms
By Joannah Luetjens (PhD candidate, MSc)
Under the supervision of Professor Paul 't Hart and Dr. Scott Douglas
Given the dense infrastructure of existing public policies, agencies, organised interest groups, citizens’ expectations, and budgetary concerns, the project of enacting, let alone sustaining, major policy reforms that can continue to citizens is enormously challenging. Despite conventional scepticism and prevailing institutional, political and social barriers, major policy reform can be passed and adopted. The big question here is why (beyond sheer luck), given the political process that can often dominate, some reforms are capable of sticking, while others fall apart. Recent research in political science, public administration, and public policy suggests that the post-enactment success of policy reforms requires further study (Patashnik, 2008; Jacobs and Weaver, 2015; Maltzman and Shipan, 2008). A hard-fought path-breaking reform might later be repealed, amended, underfunded, or expanded beyond what its creators planned.
Significant progress has been made in identifying factors which account for successful agenda setting, problem definition, and even policy implementation; yet little attention has been given to what happens next. This study uses data on policy and institutional endurance as the key success measure. It builds upon the path-breaking U.S.-based study of Eric Patashnik comparing cases of sustained and abandoned/reversed reforms, to gain a more precise insight into the mechanisms that account for different levels of policy durability. Major policy reforms require significant administrative and financial capacity, not to mention political resources, time, and support to be adopted. Given the investment made in these efforts, scholars and policy practitioners ought to be concerned with whether these efforts will actually pay off; that is, whether or not the policy will stick. The main aim of this research project is to determine the (combination of) conditions which affect the long-term durability of policy reforms; specifically, the capacity of reforms which have been enacted in legislation to adapt and change over time to adjust to changing circumstances.