chapter  11
16 Pages

Conclusion: A research agenda for policy dynamics

ByGILIBERTO CAPANO, MICHAEL HOWLETT

The task of explaining exactly how and why public policies change, remains a difficult question for scholars in the political science and public policy fields. The underlying processes, sequences of events or outputs that reveal these changes are very difficult to discern, describe and explain. In order to understand how policies change, political scientists – like all other social scientists involved in explaining social change – have borrowed several concepts and theories from other academic areas (ranging from psychology to palaeontology) and have developed a set of frameworks or perspectives on the subject. Many studies of policy change, however, continue to show a remarkable

blindness when it comes to understanding their epistemological and methodological premises, resulting in an equally remarkable plurality of unnecessary theories and frameworks. Such unwarranted theoretical diversity often encourages the compartmentalization of perspectives which fail to enrich each other, and

The studies presented here focus our attention in particular on two specific drivers of policy change which deserve further examination: the role of agency, especially leadership, and the relevance of the political system and its effects on policy-making. These two aspects of policy dynamics and change are very often referred to, but they deserve greater theoretical and empirical analysis. For too long, policy scholars have underestimated political factors and paid little concrete, systematic consideration to policy leadership. For example, in the latest state-of-the-art collection of public policy studies (Moran et al. 2006), there is no room for a systematic review of such elements. However, all the chapters in the present work reveal how the features of the political system and leadership actions play a significant role in the labyrinth of policy dynamics and change.