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Ingmar van Meerkerk and Jurian Edelenbos

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Ingmar van Meerkerk and Jurian Edelenbos

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David Kaufmann

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Chan S. Jung

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B. Guy Peters

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B. Guy Peters

Scholars and the individuals involved in making public policy use a variety of words to describe how they actually arrive at the content of those policies. Perhaps the most commonly used word is “formulation” (see Jordan and Turnpenny, 2015), but words such as creation, innovation, and development are also used to describe the process of finding some form of intervention to confront a policy problem. The hope is always that the policy that is formulated or created will be able to “solve” the problem, and that government (and citizens) can go on to cope with the next problem that arises. When Herbert Simon (1996, 111) wrote that “everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones”, the definition was somewhat generic but was definitely speaking to policy design. Although thinking about policy design has become more common in policy studies, it should be considered as a significant alternative to more casual ways of thinking about policy formulation. As Jan Tinbergen (1958, 3), a Nobel laureate in economics argued, design (in particular design for development policy) was an alternative to “decisions taken on the basis of a general idea of progress and often somewhat haphazardly”. That haphazard style of making policies persists in many countries and in many policy areas. Therefore, careful consideration of design strategies is important for both academic students of policy and policymakers in the “real world” of government.

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Chan S. Jung

This chapter provides conceptual explanations about goal and ambiguity separately. Then goal ambiguity in public management is explained in terms of definition, importance, and paradox. Goal ambiguity is defined as the extent to which a set of goals in a public program or an organization allows different interpretations in deciding work related to target, time limit, and external evaluation. Ambiguous goals can have negative effects throughout a program, an organization, and further on citizens and society and on public service performance. However, public managers must face dilemmatic situations between clear goals for (rational) managerial strategy and ambiguous goals for political need (e.g. interventions on the society versus broader political support), which is called the paradox of goal ambiguity. Then this chapter describes the plan of this book.

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Lasse Gerrits and Stefan Verweij

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Lasse Gerrits and Stefan Verweij

We argue that infrastructure projects are complex and that evaluations of such projects need to do justice to that complexity. The three principal aspects discussed here are heterogeneity, uniqueness, and context. Evaluations that are serious about incorporating the complexity of projects need to address these aspects. Often, evaluations rely on single case studies. Such studies are useful because they allow researchers to focus on the heterogeneous, unique, and contextual nature of projects. However, their relevance for explaining other (future) projects is limited. Larger-n studies allow for the comparison of cases, but they come with the important downside that their relevance for explaining single projects is limited because they cannot incorporate heterogeneity, uniqueness, and context sufficiently. The method Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) presents a promising solution to this conundrum. This book offers a guide to using QCA when evaluating infrastructure projects.

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Loretta Lees