The Dynamics of Public Policy
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The Dynamics of Public Policy

Theory and Evidence

Adrian Kay

In The Dynamics of Public Policy, Adrian Kay sets out the crucial methodological, theoretical and empirical implications of two important trends in the social sciences: a frequently expressed ambition for analysis of ‘movies not stills’ and the regular observation that policy, politics and governance is becoming more complex.
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Chapter 7: The Common Agricultural Policy 1977–2003

Adrian Kay


The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has been a continuous presence since the inception of the European Economic Community and in key aspects has remained resistant to substantial reform. As a complex policy system, the CAP provides a difficult empirical challenge to dynamic analysis. The preceding chapters have established that viewing policy as a composite whole or system is an appropriate theoretical starting point for a dynamic perspective on policy development. The empirical challenge is that of microanalysis: how to analyse the constituent elements and their interrelationships in the context of an overall identity for the system, marked by a point position in policy space. In other words, how is a multi-commodity, multi-level and multi-national policy ‘whole’ operationalized as a variable? What measures or indicators may be used to trace or map a path through policy space that can be used to structure a narrative? This chapter aims to address these difficulties through examining a series of CAP reform events, from 1977 to 2003, in terms of the CAP as a composite variable. This structured narrative shows that reforms of the CAP over time, when viewed at a system level, have occurred within a path-dependent process; but simultaneously and within the CAP system over this period a multitude of processes at different temporal scales can be observed. The chapter suggests a microfoundation to the path-dependent process in terms of situated agency: the protection of the net budget position of member states with respect to the CAP as an objective for national...

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