A Modern Guide to Public Policy
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A Modern Guide to Public Policy

Edited by Giliberto Capano and Michael Howlett

A Modern Guide to Public Policy explores the many approaches and methodologies in the study of policy making that have appeared over recent decades, ranging from the examination of micro level of human behaviour to the impact of global political systems on policies and policy-making. This expertly curated and accessible Elgar Modern Guide is a valuable resource for both graduate and undergraduate students and for practitioners seeking an introduction to public policy and public management and a concise guide to research in the discipline.
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Chapter 16: Policy dismantling, accumulation and performance

Christoph Knill, Yves Steinebach, Christian Adam and Steffen Hurka


We argue in this chapter that the overall empirical patterns of policy change are neither one of far-reaching policy change nor one of substantial policy dismantling and replacement. Rather, the most dominant development in policy outputs across policy sectors in advanced democracies is the constant, mostly irreversible accumulation of public policies. This has important implications for the policy performance of democratic governments. The longer the process of policy accumulation continues without ambitions to offset this growth by investments in implementing authorities and countries’ democratic infrastructure, the higher the likelihood that the bulk of policies will ultimately become both ineffective and illegitimate. More precisely, it can be expected that - in the long run - unsustainable policy accumulation has the potential to undermine the ability (1) to implement, monitor, and enforce public policy in a timely and evenhanded manner and (2) to maintain sophisticated policy debates within the public arena.

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