Making Policies Work
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Making Policies Work

First- and Second-order Mechanisms in Policy Design

Edited by Giliberto Capano, Michael Howlett, M Ramesh and Altaf Virani

Policy design efforts are hampered by inadequate understanding of how policy tools and actions promote effective policies. The objective of this book is to address this gap in understanding by proposing a causal theory of the linkages between policy actions and policy effects. Adopting a mechanistic perspective, the book identifies the causal processes that activate effects and help achieve goals. It thus offers a powerful analytical tool to both scholars and practitioners of public policy seeking to design effective policies.
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Chapter 2: Policy process research and the causal mechanism movement: reinvigorating the field?

Evert Lindquist and Adam Wellstead


For nearly 20 years, four edited volumes of Theories of the Policy Process (TPP) have reviewed, chronicled, and revised the key frameworks and theories of the policy process. With the growing sophistication and the ever-increasing number of empirical applications of each approach, the volume’s editors have called for policy process scholars to take causality seriously. We argue that the growing interest in causal mechanisms in other areas of political sciences and in social sciences generally may contribute to the next generation of policy process research. A textual analysis of TPP’s 4th edition reveals a ‘lumpiness’ in the use of causality and mechanisms across seven popular approaches: Multiple Streams Framework, the Advocacy Coalition Framework, Punctuated Equilibrium Theory, Institutional Rational Choice, Policy Network Approrach, Policy Feedback Theory, and Narrative Policy Framework.

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