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

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.
Buy Book in Print
Show Summary Details
You do not have access to this content

Chapter 22: Evolutionary theory in comparative policy analysis

Adrian Kay


The prospects for evolutionary theory in comparative public policy have attracted recent attention. Central to this endeavour is the potential for explanation-by-consequences: to explain policy phenomena through appeal to their actual consequences rather than their antecedent causes. Such an explanatory strategy is a marked deviation from the ‘causes-of-effects’ approach and co-variational research designs employed conventionally in comparative public policy. This chapter considers several methodological issues presented by such an approach. It investigates evolution as a process, as a theory and as a metaphor for use in policy studies. It develops the argument that much institutionalist theory in comparative public policy already relies, often implicitly, on evolutionary metaphors. A greater recognition of this legacy would benefit methodological thinking about research designs for longitudinal analysis of policy processes. In the final section, the chapter offers reflections on the prospects and pitfalls of evolutionary thinking in comparative public policy; in particular, examining issues associated with functionalism, the role of agency and circularity.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information

or login to access all content.