PSG XXI: Policy Design and Evaluation

General interests

Governments are increasingly challenged to make efficient and effective choices for the allocation of resources to public ends, a development which has made their ability for policy  design and evaluation move to the center of the governance agenda. This development should be understood against the background of growing demands on professional policy-making and the call for co-creation of policies. Policy problems are experienced to be of an increasingly complex and wicked nature. This has resulted in a higher demand for evidence on causal linkages between inputs, outputs and outcomes, in both the broader policy context and the wider policy environment in which societal problems arise and answers to these problems are to be found. In addition, the provision of evidence on how public money is actually spent has become an important tool to reduce the distance between public administration and civil society.

The trend towards professional and interactive policy-making constitutes the context of the research agenda of this study group. The study group will be focusing on issues that relate to the public administration of policy design and evaluation, including the production and use of policy advice by actors within and external to the government. A better understanding of policy design and evaluation, and particularly their interplay with politics and public administration in the context of professional and interactive policy-making is key to advance the quality of public policies and programs. The research agenda of the study group is broad enough to cover a rich set of questions that consider practical and theoretical issues of policy design and evaluation both as independent as well as dependent variables.

Research topics to be addressed are (non-exhaustive list):

– The institutionalization of policy design and evaluation in government
– The impact of forces as New Public Management, New Public Governance, fiscal austerity measures and international institutions on policy design and policy evaluation
– Theories of the policy process, with a specific focus to policy design and evaluation
– ‘Rationality’ (e.g. evidence take-up, efficiency and effectiveness considerations) and ‘ideology’ (e.g. influence of policy paradigms or political party ideologies) in policy design and evaluation
– The artisanal and technical work of policy design and evaluation by civil servants and by external policy advisors
– The variegated policy work of ministerial advisors
– The role of stakeholders (parliament, interest groups, party study centers, etc.) in policy design and evaluation considerations, processes and outcomes
– The choice of policy instruments
– The agenda setting of policy evaluation
– The utilization of public policy evaluations in the public sector
– Design for policy take-up
– Methods for research about policy design and evaluation

In this study group, particular attention will be given to comparative research, taking advantage from the input of scholars and practitioners with expertise in a wide range of empirical settings.

Read the full Objective and Planning Paper

The co-chairs are :

Marleen Brans
KU Leuven (Belgium)
[email protected]

Valérie Pattyn
University of Leiden (Pays-Bas)
[email protected]

Sonja Blum
FernUniversität in Hagen
[email protected]


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