Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Comparative Policy Analysis
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Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Comparative Policy Analysis

Edited by B. Guy Peters and Guillaume Fontaine

Public policy research has become increasingly comparative over the past several decades, but the methodological issues involved in this research have not been discussed adequately. This Handbook provides a discussion of the fundamental methodological issues in comparative policy research, as well as descriptions and analyses of major techniques used for that research. The techniques discussed are both quantitative and qualitative, and all are embedded in the broader discussion of comparative research design.
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Chapter 2: The comparative method and comparative policy analysis

B. Guy Peters

Abstract

This chapter explores the utility of the comparative method for comparative policy analysis, and argues that this method can be especially useful for dealing with comparative public policy. Although learning about policy in individual countries can provide some understanding of the dynamics of policy, on that basis it is difficult to develop general theoretical and analytic models of public policy. The world, on the other hand, provides a natural laboratory for the study of policy (and indeed any other social or political phenomenon) that enables researchers to build theory and to understand the conditions under which certain factors can influence outcomes with a greater chance for valid generalizations. By careful selection of cases the comparative method enables the researcher to control the influence of extraneous factors and to assess the effects of presumed causal factors on dependent variables.

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