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17 October 2017
Part 2: Research Uptake Policy series: a Meta-analysis of the knowledge-to-policy field Print
Thursday, 24 July 2014 11:55

Dr Sara Grobbelaar, a Researcher at CREST,considers a range of authors’ views on the process for the analysis of the policy process and also reviews various paradigms of enquiry.

Part 1 of this four-part blog series on Research Uptake: Knowledge to Policy discussed tensions between researchers, policy analysts and politicians.

In Part 2 we consider a range of authors’ views on analysis of the policy process, and also review various paradigms of enquiry. This provides an interesting background for the concluding section, which outlines what these paradigms of inquiry imply for a range of approaches to the policy process.

Analysis and the policy process

According to Parsons (1995), as Lasswell suggested, the policy sciences could be defined in terms of (H.D. Lasswell, 1971):

  • Knowledge in the policy process which refers to knowledge produced through analysis and evaluation (Nowlin, 2011);
  • Knowledge of the policy process is focused on the “how and why” of policy making (Nowlin, 2011).
“The analysis of a monitoring study tracks how a policy is performing against stated goals, while evaluation studies evaluate what impact a policy had on solving a specific problem”

It was therefore proposed that these varieties of policy analyses could be presented as a continuum:

Analysis of policy

  • Policy determination: Analysis on “how policy is made, why, when and for whom”. What is intended here is that the focus is on understanding the policy system better - here it is often concerned with developing models of the system and to understand how the policies are made;
  • Policy content: Here the focus of analysis is on the origin, intention and operation of policies. Such studies are often more focused on academic advancement, and could include a “value analysis” of content, i.e. looking at how policy is institutionalising social theories.

Monitoring and evaluation

  • The analysis of a monitoring study tracks how a policy is performing against stated goals, while evaluation studies evaluate what impact a policy has had on solving a specific problem.

Analysis for policy

  • Policy advocacy: Here Gordon et al. (1977)  refers to any research that is conducted to influence the “policy agenda”.  This may refer to advocacy of a single or range of policies and through a range of relationships the researchers have with the policy community;
  • Information for policy: The researcher’s task here is to provide decision makers or policy makers with information or advice to support their decision-making or policy-making activities. The nature of the information may be the provision of useful data or even an analysis or research that support causal links or explore policy options

 

Concluding from the section above, the policy analysis field is concerned with a range of aspects of the policy making process from having a better understanding of how policy is made, how to influence these processes and also what needs to be considered in providing appropriate support to decision makers.

“the policy analysis field is concerned with a range of aspects of the policy-making process from having a better understanding of how policy is made, to how to influence these processes and also what needs to be considered in providing appropriate support to decision makers”

In  the key body of the full paper, we consider various paradigms of inquiry and their implications for policy studies through which these questions have been attempted to be answered.Followed up by a highly selective overview of paradigms to policy approaches.

 

Read the full article

Click here to download this article, which covers,

  • Analysis and the policy process, continued
    • Paradigms of enquiry
    • Implications of these paradigms of inquiry for policy studies
  •  Key paradigms of policy approaches
    • “Rational decision making”
    • Critical rationalists
    • Political realists
    • Critical theorists
    • Managerialsts
      • Conclusion

This is the second blog in a four-part “Research Uptake: Knowledge to Policy” blog series:

Part 1 discussed tensions between researchers, policy analysts and politicians.

Part 3: Research Uptake Policy series: Key heuristics, metaphors, theories and frameworks

 Part 4: Towards synthesised theories of policy change

The essay on which this series is based can be found here


Dr Sara Grobbelaar is a researcher at CREST, Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

Email: ssgrobbelaar@sun.ac.za
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