A Normed Topic in Democratic Institutions and Policy Process
The Political Context of Policy Making
This topic focuses on the political side of policy making and seeks to provide information on how political institutions and structures shape the choice architecture of politicians and the decision making process (PPPA-6011). Through looking at the process of the policy making as being shaped by a country’s constitution, this topic seeks to demonstrate how policy options are framed, debated, and evaluated through looking at policy debates in the legislature, justice system, and the ballot box (PP-202). A comparative approach can be adopted with the goal of discerning the extent to which different political systems and impact the policy making process. This allows one to critically analyze the actions of political actors (political parties, social movements, labour unions) in the policy making process through understanding the structural conditions that they work within and the strategies they employ to influence policy (DPI-101). This topic analyzes the nature of the political system through looking at the theoretical underpinnings of the democratic system and assessing the system’s ability to meet the increasingly complex demands of contemporary governance (JSGS-801).
Topic Learning Outcome: Upon mastering this topic at the MPP/MPA level, the student will understand how political institutions and structures shape the choice architecture of politicians and the decision making process, and how different political systems impact the policy making process, including their ability to meet the increasingly complex demands of contemporary governance. The student will be able to describe the concepts listed below.
Core Concepts associated with this Topic: Agenda Setting; Brokerage Politics; Deliberative Democracy; Democracy; Direct vs. Indirect Democracy; Interest Aggregation; Issue-Attention Cycle; Issue Framing; Legislature; Political Parties; Venue Shopping.
Deborah A. Stone. Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making, 3rd Ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011. Introduction, Chapters 1-4, 6-9, 11-14, Conclusion.
“Memo Writing.” The Electronic Hallway, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington, 20.
R. Kent Weaver. Ending Welfare as We Know It. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2000. Chapter 6, “The Role of Policy Research,” pp. 135-168.
George Washington: PPA-6011
Charles Lindblom (1959), “The Science of Muddling Through." PAR 19(2): 79-88.
Sarah A. Binder and Thomas E. Mann (2011), “Constraints on Leadership in Washington.” Brookings Institution, Issues in Governance Studies. Vol. 41: 1-18. Available at: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/papers/2011/07_leadership_binder_mann/07_leadership_binder_mann.pdf
Arnold J. Meltsner. (1972), “Political Feasibility and Policy Analysis.” PAR, 32(6): 859-867.
Marcia Clemmitt (2010), “Gridlock in Washington: Is Congress too Polarized to Act?” CQ Researcher, 20(7): 385-408.
Bachrach and Baratz (1962), “Two Faces of Power,” American Political Science Review, 56(4): 947-952.
Anthony Downs (1972), “Up and Down with Ecology: The Issue-Attention Cycle.” The Public Interest, 28: 38-50.
Frank R. Baumgartner, Jeffrey M. Berry, Marie Hojnacki, and David C. Kimball (2009). Lobbying and Policy Change: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Chapters 1-5
Harvard Kennedy School: DPI-101
Scott Mainwaring and Matthew Shugart, 1997, “Juan Linz, Presidentialism, Democracy: A Critical Appraisal,” Comparative Politics 29(4), pp. 449-471.
Juan Linz, 1990, “The Perils of Presidentialism,” Journal of Democracy, 1 (1), pp. 51-69.
Donald Horowitz, 2003, “Electoral Systems: A Primer for Decision Makers,” Journal of Democracy 14 (4), pp. 115-127.
Torben Iversen and David Soskice, 2006, “Electoral Institutions and the Politics of Coalitions: Why Some Democracies Redistribute More Than Others,” American Political Science Review100 (2), pp. 165-181.
NYU Wagner: GP-1022
Kraft & Furlong, Public Policy: Politics, Analysis and Alternatives, 4th edition (2013). Chapter 2
Kingdon. Agendas, Alternatives, and Public Policies, 2nd updated edition (2011). Chapters 2 and 3
Heclo, “Issue Networks and the Executive Establishment.”
Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy: JSGS-801
Skogstad, Grace. 2003. “Who Governs? Who Should Govern? Political Authority and Legitimacy in Canada in the Twenty-First Century.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 36(5), 955-973.
Sutherland, Sharon. 1991. “Responsible Government and Ministerial Responsibility: Every Solution is its Own Problem.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 24(1), 91-111.
Smith, David. 2007. “Clarifying the Doctrine of Ministerial Responsibility as it Applies to the Government and Parliament of Canada.” Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities Research Studies I. 101-43. http://dsp-psd.pwgsc.gc.ca/Collection/GomeryII/ResearchStudies1/CISPAA_Vol1_4.pdf
Brown, David C.G. 2013. "Accountability in a collectivized environment: From Glassco to digital public administration." Canadian Public Administration 56 (1): 47-69.
Mulgan, Richard. 2010. “Where Have All the Ministers Gone?” Australian Journal of Public Administration, 69 (3): 289-300.
Polidano, Charles. 1999. “The Bureaucrat Who Fell Under a Bus: Ministerial Responsibility, Executive Agencies and The Derek Lewis Affair in Britain.” Governance 12(2): 201-229.
D’Ombrain, Nicolas. 2007. “Ministerial Responsibility and the Machinery of Government,” Canadian Public Administration 50(2): 195-218.
University of Toronto: PPG-1001
Hall, Peter A. and Rosemary C.R. Taylor. 1996. “Political Science and the Three New Institutionalisms.” Political Studies 64: pp. 936-957.
Schwab, David and Elinor Ostrom. 2008. “The Vital role of Norms and Rules in Making Open Public and Private Economies.” In Moral Markets: The Critical role of Values in the Economy, ed. Paul J. Zak. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, pp. 204-227.
Shepsle, Kenneth. 1989. “Studying Institutions: Some Lessons from the Rational Choice Approach.” Journal of Theoretical Politics 1, 2: pp. 131-47.
Hardin, Garrett. 1968. “The Tragedy of the Commons.” Science 162: pp. 1243-1248.
March, James G. and Johan P. Olsen. 1996. “Institutional Perspectives on Political Institutions.” Governance 9, 3: pp. 247-264.
Moe, Terry. 2005. “Power and Political Institutions.” Perspectives on Politics 3, 2 : pp. 215-233.
Ostrom, Elinor. 1999. “Coping with Tragedies of the Commons.” Annual Review of Political Science 2: pp. 493-535.
Pierson, Paul. 1995. “Fragmented Welfare States: Federal Institutions and the Development of Social Policy.” Governance 8, 4: pp. 449-478.
Tsebelis, George. 1995. “Decision Making in Political Systems: Veto Players in Presidentialism, Parliamentarism, Multicameralism and Multipartyism.” British Journal of Political Science 25: pp. 289-325.
American University: PUAD-612
Frank J. Goodnow, “Politics and Administration,” (1900).
Paul Appleby, “Government is Different,” from Big Democracy (1945).
Philip Selznick, “The Cooptative Mechanism,” (1949).
Lowi, Theodore J. "The end of liberalism: The second republic of the United States." (1979).
Possible Assessment Questions:
Define the following terms: Agenda Setting; Brokerage Politics; Deliberative Democracy; Democracy; Direct vs. Indirect Democracy; Interest Aggregation; Issue-Attention Cycle; Issue Framing; Legislature; Political Parties; Venue Shopping.
How do political pressures influence the choice architecture facing politicians and other policymakers?
It is sometimes said that political pressure is a constraint on rational policymaking. Explain why you think this is or is not true, using examples.
Given the complexities of contemporary governance, would citizens be better served if more decisions were placed in the hands of unelected, professional public servants who are more insulated from political pressure than elected politicians? Why or why not?
Page created by: Joshua Tan, edited by Ben Eisen, updated by Ian Clark, 4 February 2015.