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 11: Using indexes in comparative policy analysis: global comparisons

Tero Erkkilä

Abstract

Global indicators have become influential policy instruments effecting national policies. This has also raised interest in the composition of these measurements and their methodology, as well as their underlying ideological and political aspects. Global country rankings and indicators have faced criticism for their normative character and methodology. This chapter analyses measurement issues that arise in developing indices for policy in an international context. Attention is given to the rise of so-called second generation governance indicators and related methodological debates and changes in the production and use of indicators. Measurements of transparency are used as a case for analysing the shift towards second generation governance indicators. At the same time, there has been a recent surge of regional and city-level rankings of competitiveness and innovation. However, here the problems identified in the early rankings of good governance are again encountered. The author argues that these measurement issues can be understood against the field development in global ranking, where the actors hoping to enter the field tend to reproduce existing practices in the field. Sartori (1970) famously stated that comparative analyses ‘travel on their concepts’. The current comparative assessments in policy indicators rather seem to travel on availability of existing data than on concepts.

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