Politics 851 – The Public Policy Process


January 2005

Wednesday 1:00-4:00


M. Howlett

AQ 6043



Office Hours: Wed 12:00-1:00






This course is designed to review relevant theoretical materials pertaining to public policy-making and test key hypotheses in the policy sciences through empirical examinations of Canadian cases in public policy-making. Policy theory related to the stages of the policy cycle; the impact of policy ideas, institutions and actors on policy outcomes; and the concepts of  policy styles, and policy regimes will be reviewed and tested against examples of Canadian policy making behaviour. Throughout the course an emphasis will be placed on methodological aspects of operationalizing key concepts in the field.



Required Texts:


None. Course Readings have been placed on reserve in Bennett Library. Due to library restrictions on course materials these are listed both for Pol851 and for other graduate politics courses (pol 892).





  1. Class Presentations (2) – 30%
  2. Term Paper – 50%
  3. Term Paper Presentation – 10%
  4. Class Participation – 10%


Class Presentations:


At the beginning of term, each student will be assigned two weeks for which he/she will be responsible for commenting on the theoretical and methodological issues raised in that week’s readings. Missed assignments will receive a zero (0) grade. Students who are not presenting are expected to comment and critique class presentations and contribute to the development of a common understanding of conceptual and methodological issues of interest to political scientists engaged in public policy research.


Paper Topics:


By mid-term, each student will identify a specific topic area and methodological issue which will be the subject of their term paper. These topics and issues will be investigated through examination of a specific empirical case of Canadian public policy-making. Preliminary drafts of the term papers will be presented to class in Weeks XII-XIII. Papers are due on the last day of class, with the exception of those students presenting in Week XIII who will be granted an automatic one week extension. Late papers will lose 10% per day late.






Weekly Topics and Reading List



Background Reading: Students who are unfamiliar with the following concepts should cover the associated readings listed below prior to the first class.



a. Policy Analysis and Political Science:


Garson, G. David. “From Policy Science to Policy Analysis: A Quarter Century of Progress.” In W. N. Dunn, ed(s), Policy Analysis: Perspectives, Concepts,  and Methods,  Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1986.  3-22.


Hawkesworth, Mary. “Epistemology and Policy Analysis.” In W. Dunn and R. M. Kelly, ed(s), Advances in Policy Studies,  New Brunswick: Transaction Press, 1992.  291-329.


Torgerson, Douglas. “Between Knowledge and Politics: Three Faces Of Policy Analysis.” Policy Sciences. 19, no. 1 (1986): 33-59.


Webber, David J. “Analyzing Political Feasibility: Political Scientists' Unique Contribution to Policy Analysis.” Policy Studies Journal. 14, no. 4 (1986): 545-554.


b. Policy Cycles:


Lyden, Fremont J., George A. Shipman, and Robert W. Wilkinson. “Decision-Flow Analysis: A Methodology for Studying the Public Policy-Making Process.” In P. P. Le Breton, ed(s), Comparative Administrative Theory,  Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1968.  155-168.


deLeon, Peter. “The Stages Approach to the Policy Process: What Has It Done? Where Is It Going?” In P. A. Sabatier, ed(s), Theories of the Policy Process,  Boulder: Westview, 1999.  19-34.


Howlett, M. and M. Ramesh. Studying Public Policy: Policy Cycles and Policy Subsystems Toronto: oxford University Press, 1995 Chapter 1


Sabatier, Paul A. “Toward Better Theories of the Policy Process.” PS: Political Science and Politics. 24, no. 2 (1991): 144-156.


c. Policy Regimes


Eisner, Marc Allen. “Discovering Patterns in Regulatory History: Continuity, Change and Regulatory Regimes.” Journal of Policy History. 6, no. 2 (1994): 157-187.


Orren, Karen and Stephen Skowronek. “Regimes and Regime Building in American Government: A Review of Literature on the 1940s.” Political Science Quarterly. 113, no. 4 (1998-99): 689-702.


Wilson, Carter A. “Policy Regimes and Policy Change.” Journal of Public Policy. 20, no. 3 (2000): 247-271.


Esping-Andersen, Gosta. “Power and Distributional Regimes.” Politics and Society. 14, no. 2 (1985): 223-256.



d. Policy Subystems


Knoke, David. “Networks as Political Glue: Explaining Public Policy-Making.” In W. J. Wilson, ed(s), Sociology and the Public Agenda,  London: Sage, 1993.  164-184.


McCool, Daniel. “The Subsystem Family of Concepts: A Critique and a Proposal.” Political Research Quarterly. 51, no. 2 (1998): 551-570.


Burstein, Paul. “Policy Domains: Organization, Culture and Policy Outcomes.” Annual Review of Sociology. 17(1991): 327-350.


Milward, H. Brinton and Gary L. Walmsley. “Policy Subsystems, Networks and the Tools of Public Management.” In R. Eyestone, ed(s), Public Policy Formation, Greenwich: JAI Press, 1984. 3-25.





Week I  January 5 –  Introduction and Administration:Theories of Public Policy-Making




Howlett, Michael and M. Ramesh. Studying Public Policy: Policy Cycles and Policy Subsystems.  Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2003 (second edition). Chapter 2


Sabatier, Paul A. Theories of the Policy Process.  Boulder: Westview Press, 1999.


Birkland, Thomas A. An Introduction to the Policy Process; Theories, Concepts, and Models of Public Policy Making.  Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 2001.




Dobuzinskis, Laurent, Michael Howlett, and David Laycock, ed.   Policy Studies in Canada: The State of the Art.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996.



Week II  January 12 – Policy Cycles: Agenda-Setting




Baumgartner, Frank R. and Bryan D. Jones. Agendas and Instability in American Politics.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.


Kingdon, John W. Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies.  Boston: HarperCollins College Publishers, 1995.


Cobb, R., J.K. Ross, and M.H. Ross. “Agenda Building as a Comparative Political Process.” American Political Science Review. 70, no. 1 (1976): 126-138.




Howlett, Michael. “Issue-Attention and Punctuated Equilibria Models Reconsidered: An Empirical Examination of the Dynamics of Agenda-Setting in Canada.” Canadian Journal of Political Science. 30, no. 1 (1997): 3-29.


Howlett, Michael. “Predictable and Unpredictable Policy Windows: Issue, Institutional and Exogenous Correlates of Canadian Federal Agenda-Setting.” Canadian Journal of Political Science. 31, no. 3 (1998): 495-524.


Soroka, Stuart N.  Agenda-Setting Dynamics in Canada Vancouver: UBC Press, 2002



Week III January 19 - Policy Cycles: Formulation




Linder, Stephen H. and B. Guy Peters. “Policy Formulation and the Challenge of Conscious Design.” Evaluation and Program Planning. 13(1990): 303-311.


Jordan, A. Grant. “Iron Triangles, Woolly Corporatism and Elastic Nets: Images of the Policy Process.” Journal of Public Policy. 1, no. 1 (1981): 95-123.


deLeon, Peter. “Policy Formulation: Where Ignorant Armies Clash By Night.” Policy Studies Review. 11, no. 3/4 (1992): 389-405.


Weiss, Carol H. “Research for Policy's Sake: The Enlightenment Function of Social Science Research.” Policy Analysis. 3, no. 4 (1977): 531-545.


Dowding, Keith. “Model or Metaphor? A Critical Review of the Policy Network Approach.” Political Studies. 43(1995): 136-158.




Howlett, Michael. “Do Networks Matter?  Linking Policy Formulation Processes to Policy Outcomes: Evidence  From Four Canadian Policy Sectors 1990-2000.” Canadian Journal of Political Science. 35, no. 2 (2002) 235-268


Zahariadis, Nikoloas and Christopher S. Allen. “Ideas, Networks, and Policy Streams: Privatization in Britain and Germany.” Policy Studies Review. 14, no. 1/2 (1995): 71-98.


Schneider, Mark et al. “Building Consensual institutions: Networks and the National Estuary Program.” American Journal of Political Science. 47, no. 1 (2003): 143-158.


Landry, Rejean, Moktar Lamari, and Nabil Amara. “The Extent and Determinants of the Utilization of University Research in Government Agencies.” Public Administration Review. 63, no. 2 (2003): 192-205.




Week IV January 26 –  Policy Cycles: Decision-Making




Simon, Herbert A. “The Structure of Ill Structured Problems.” Artificial Intelligence. 4(1973): 181-201.


Lindblom, Charles E. “The Science of Muddling Through.” Public Administration Review. 19, no. 2 (1959): 79-88.


Smith, Gilbert and David May. “The Artificial Debate Between Rationalist and Incrementalist Models of Decision-Making.” Policy and Politics. 8, no. 2 (1980): 147-161.


Cohen, M., J. March, and J. Olsen. “A Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice.” Administrative Science Quarterly. 17, no. 1 (1972): 1-25.


Allison, Graham. Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Boston: Little Brown, 1971.


Teisman, Geert R. “Models for Research into Decision-Making Processes: On Phases, Streams and Decision-Making Rounds.” Public Administration. 78, no. 4 (2000): 937-956


Weiss, Carol H. “Knowledge Creep and Decision Accretion.” Knowledge: Creation, Diffusion, Utilization. 1, no. 3 (1980): 381-404.




Kahneman, Daniel and Amos Tversky. “Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision Under Risk.” Econometrica. 47(1979): 263-289.


Bendor, Jonathan. “A Model of Muddling Through.” American Political Science Review. 89, no. 4 (1995): 819-840


Bendor, Jonathan and Thomas H. Hammond. “Re-Thinking Allison's Models.” American Political Science Review. 86, no. 2 (1992): 301-322.


Bendor, Jonathan, Terry M. Moe, and Kenneth W. Shotts. “Recycling the Garbage Can: An Assessment of the Research Program.” American Political Science Review. 95, no. 1 (2001): 169-190.


Mintz, Alex and Nehemia Geva. “The PoliHeuristic Theory of Foreign Policy Decision Making.” In N. Geva and A. Mintz, ed(s), Decision-Making in War and Peace: The Cognitive-Rational Debate,  Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1997.



Week V February 2    Policy Cycles: Implementation




Peters, B. Guy and F. K. M. Van Nispen, ed.  Public Policy Instruments : Evaluating the Tools of Public Administration.  New York: Edward Elgar, 1998.


Sabatier, Paul A. “Top-Down and Bottom-Up Approaches to Implementation Research: A Critical Analysis and Suggested Synthesis.” Journal of Public Policy. 6(1986): 21-48.


O'Toole, Laurence J. “Research on Policy Implementation: Assessment and Prospects.” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. 10, no. 2 (2000): 263-288.


Hood, Christopher. The Tools of Government.  Chatham: Chatham House Publishers, 1986.


Eliadis, Pearl, Margaret Hill, and Michael Howlett, ed. Designing Government: From Instruments to Governance. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2004.


Howlett, Michael. “Managing the "Hollow State": Procedural Policy Instruments and Modern Governance.” Canadian Public Administration. 43, no. 4 (2000): 412-431.



Salamon, Lester M., ed.  The Tools of Government: A Guide to the New Governance.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.


Goggin, Malcolm L. et al. Implementation Theory and Practice: Toward A Third Generation.  Glenview: Scott, Foresman/Little, Brown, 1990.


McCubbins, Mathew D. and Arthur Lupia. “Learning from Oversight: Fire Alarms and Policy Patrols Reconstructed.” Journal of Law, Economics and Organization. 10, no. 1 (1994): 96-125.


Hawkins, Keith and John M. Thomas. “Making Policy in Regulatory Bureaucracies.” In K. Hawkins and J. M. Thomas, ed(s), Making Regulatory Policy,  Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989.  3-30.


Scholz, John T. “Cooperative Regulatory Enforcement and the Politics of Administrative Effectiveness.” American Political Science Review. 85, no. 1 (1991): 115-136.



Week VI February 9    Policy Cycles: Evaluation




Weimer, David L. and Aidan R. Vining. Policy Analysis: Concepts and Practice.  New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1999.


Patton, Carl V. and David S. Sawicki. Basic Methods of Policy Analysis and Planning.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1993.


Palumbo, Dennis J. The Politics of Program Evaluation.  Beverly Hills: Sage, 1987.


Nachmias, David. Public Policy Evaluation: Approaches and Methods.  New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979.


Dobell, Rodney and David Zussman. “An Evaluation System for Government: If Politics is Theatre, then Evaluation is (mostly) Art.” Canadian Public Administration. 24, no. 3 (1981): 404-427.


deLeon, Peter. “Policy Evaluation and Program Termination.” Policy Studies Review. 2, no. 4 (1983): 631-647.




Geva-May, Iris. “When the Motto is 'Till Death Do Us Part": The Conceptualization and the Craft of Termination in the Public Policy Cycle.” International Journal of Public Administration. 24, no. 3 (2001): 263-288.


Kirkpatrick, Susan E., James P. Lester, and Mark R. Peterson. “The Policy Termination Process: A Conceptual Framework and Application to Revenue Sharing.” Policy Studies Review. 16, no. 1 (1999): 209-236.


Lewis, David E. “The Politics of Agency Termination: Confronting the Myth of Agency Immortality.” The Journal  of Politics. 64, no. 1 (2002): 89-107.


Hahn, Robert W. and Patrick Dudley. How Well Does the Government Do Cost-Benefit Analysis. Washington D.C.: AEI-Brookings Joint Centre for Regulatory Studies Working Paper, 2004


Gunton, Thomas. “Megaprojects and Regional Development: Pathologies in Project Planning.” Regional Studies. 37, no. 5 (2003): 505-519.



Week VII February 16  – Policy Regimes: Role of Ideas




Hall, Peter A. “Policy Paradigms, Social Learning and the State: The Case of Economic Policy Making in Britain.” Comparative Politics. 25, no. 3 (1993): 275-96.


Blyth, Mark M. “"Any More Bright Ideas?" The Ideational Turn of Comparative Political Economy.” Comparative Politics. 29(1997): 229-250.


J. Goldstein and R. O. Keohane, ed(s), Ideas and Foreign Policy: Beliefs, Institutions and Political Change,  Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993.  3-30.


Braun, Dietmar and Andreas Busch, ed.  Public Policy and Political Ideas.  Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 1999.


Campbell, John L. “Institutional Analysis and the Role of Ideas in Political Economy.” Theory and Society. 27, no. 5 (1998): 377-409.




Howlett, Michael. “Policy Paradigms and Policy Change: Lessons From the Old and New Canadian Policies Towards Aboriginal Peoples.” Policy Studies Journal. 22, no. 4 (1994): 631-651.


Goldstein, Judith and Robert O. Keohane. “Ideas and Foreign Policy: An Analytical Framework.” In J. Goldstein and R. O. Keohane, ed(s), Ideas and Foreign Policy: Beliefs, Institutions and Political Change,  Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993.  3-30.


Yee, Albert S. “The Causal Effects of Ideas on Policies.” International Organizations. 50, no. 1 (1996): 69-108.


Coleman, William D., Grace D. Skogstad, and Michael Atkinson. “Paradigm Shifts and Policy Networks: Cumulative Change in Agriculture.” Journal of Public Policy. 16, no. 3 (1996): 273-302.


Bhatia, V. and W.D. Coleman. “Ideas and Discourse: Reform and Resistance in the German and Canadian Health Systems.” Canadian Journal of Political Science. 36, no. 4 (2003): 715-740


Chadwick, Andrew. “Studying Political Ideas: A Public Political Discourse Approach.” Political Studies. 48(2000): 283-301.


Muntigle, Peter. “Policy, Politics and Social Control: A Systemic Functional Linguistic Analysis of EU Employment Policy.” Text. 22, no. 3 (2002): 393-441.



Week VIII February 23 – Policy Regimes: Role of Institutions




Kiser, Larry L. and Elinor Ostrom. “The Three Worlds of Action: A Metetheoretical Synthesis of Institutional Approaches.” In E. Ostrom, ed(s), Strategies of Political Inquiry,  Beverly Hills: Sage, 1982.  179-222.


March, James G. and Johan P. Olsen. Rediscovering Institutions: The Organizational Basis of Politics.  New York: The Free Press, 1989.


Clemens, Elisabeth S. and James M. Cook. “Politics and Institutionalism: Explaining Durability and Change.” Annual Review of Sociology. 25(1999): 441-466.


Mahoney, James. “Path Dependence in Historical Sociology.” Theory and Society. 29, no. 4 (2000): 507-548.




Wilsford, David. “Path Dependency, or Why History Makes It Difficult but Not Impossible to Reform Health Care Systems in A Big Way.” Journal of Public Policy. 14, no. 3 (1994): 251-284.




Ostrom, Elinor. “A Method of Institutional Analysis.” In F. X. Kaufman, G. Majone and V. Ostrom, ed(s), Guidance, Control and Evaluation in the Public Sector,  Berlin: deGruyter, 1986.


Weaver, R. Kent and Bert A. Rockman. “When and How do Institutions Matter?” In R. K. Weaver and B. A. Rockman, ed(s), Do Institutions Matter? Government Capabilities in the United States and Abroad,  Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institutions, 1993.  445-461.


Hall, Peter A. “The Change from Keynesianism to Monetarism: Institutional Analysis  and British Economic Policy in the 1970s.” In S. Steinmo, K. Thelen and F. Longstreth, ed(s), Structuring Politics: Historical Institutionalism in Comparative Analysis,  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.  90-114.


Pierson, Paul. “Increasing Returns, Path Dependence, and the Study of Politics.” American Political Science Review. 94, no. 2 (2000): 251-267.


Pierson, Paul. “The Limits of Design: Explaining Institutional Origins and Change.” Governance. 13, no. 4 (2000): 475-499.


Genschel, Philipp. “The Dynamics of Inertia: Institutional Persistence and Change in Telecommunications and Health care.” Governance. 10, no. 1 (1997): 43-66.



Week IX March 2 – Class Cancelled



Week X March 9  – Policy Regimes: Role of Actors




Heclo, Hugh. “Issue Networks and the Executive Establishment.” In A. King, ed(s), The New American Political System,  Washington D.C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1978.  87-124.


Sabatier, Paul A. “An Advocacy Coalition Framework of Policy Change and the Role of Policy-Oriented Learning Therein.” Policy Sciences. 21, no. 2/3 (1988): 129-168.


Peters, Guy. “Policy Networks: Myth, Metaphor and Reality.” In D. Marsh, ed(s), Comparing Policy Networks,  Buckingham: Open University Press, 1998.  21-32.


Marsh, David and Martin Smith. “Understanding Policy Networks: Towards a Dialectical Approach.” Political Studies. 48(2000): 4-21.


Rayner, J. , M. Howlett, J. Wilson, G. Hoberg and B. Cashore ,“Privileging the Sub-Sector: Critical Sub-Sectors and Sectoral Relationships in Forest Policy-Making.” Forest Policy and Economics. 2, no. 3-4 (2001): 319-332.




Heinz, John P. et al. “Inner Circles or Hollow Cores.” Journal of Politics. 52, no. 2 (1990): 356-390.




Heinz, John P. et al. The Hollow Core: Private Interests in National Policy Making.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993. 


Laumann, Edward O. and David Knoke. The Organizational State: Social Choice in National Policy Domains.  Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.


Raab, Jorg. “Where Do Policy Networks Come From?” Journal  of Public Administration Research and Theory. 12, no. 4 (2002): 581-622.


Brandes, Ulrik et al. “Explorations into the Visualization of Policy Networks.” Journal of Theoretical Politics. 11, no. 1 (1999): 75-106.


Raab, Jorg and H. Brinton Milward. “Dark Networks as Problems.” Journal  of Public Administration Research and Theory. 13, no. 4 (2003): 413-440.


McGregor, Sue L. T. “Modeling the Evolution of a Policy Network Using Network Analysis.” Family and Consumer Research Journal. 32, no. 4 (2004): 382-407.




Week XI March 16 – Policy Styles



Gormley, William T. “Regulatory Enforcement.” Political Research Quarterly. 51, no. 2 (1998): 363-383.


Howlett, Michael. “Beyond Legalism? Policy Ideas, Implementation Styles and Emulation-Based Convergence in Canadian and U.S. Environmental Policy.” Journal of Public Policy. 20, no. 3 (2000): 305-329.


Kagan, Robert A. “Adversarial Legalism and American Government.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. 10, no. 3 (1991): 369-406.


Vogel, David. National Styles of Regulation: Environmental Policy in Great Britain and the United States.  Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986.


Freeman, Gary P. “National Styles and Policy Sectors: Explaining Structured Variation.” Journal of Public Policy. 5, no. 4 (1985): 467-496.



Richardson, Jeremy, Gunnel Gustafsson, and Grant Jordan. “The Concept of Policy Style.” In J. J. Richardson, ed(s), Policy Styles in Western Europe,  London: George Allen and Unwin, 1982.  1-16.


May, Peter J. and Soren Winter. “Regulatory Enforcement and Compliance: Examining Danish Agro-Environmental Policy.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. 18, no. 4 (1999): 625-651.


Howlett, Michael. “Administrative Styles and the Limits of Administrative Reform: A Neo-Institutional Analysis of Administrative Culture.” Canadian Public Administration. 46, no. 4 (2004): 471-494.


Howlett, Michael and Evert Lindquist. “Policy Analysis and Governance: Analytical and Policy Styles in Canada.” Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis. 6, no. 3 (2004): 225-249.



Kagan, Robert A. “The Political Construction of American Adversarial Legalism.” In A. Ranney, ed(s), Courts and the Political Process, Berkeley: Institute of Governmental Studies Press, 1996. 19-39.


Kagan, Robert A. “Should Europe Worry About Adversarial Legalism?” Oxford Journal of Legal Studies. 17, no. 2 (1997): 165-183.


Kagan, Robert A. and Lee Axelrad. “Adversarial Legalism: An International Perspective.” In P. S. Nivola, ed(s), Comparative Disadvantages? Social Regulations and the Global Economy, Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1997. 146-202.




Week XII March 23  – Paper Presentations



Week XIII March 30  – Paper Presentations