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Public Policy Investment: Priority-Setting and Conditional Representation In British Statecraft
     

Public Policy Investment: Priority-Setting and Conditional Representation In British Statecraft

by Anthony Bertelli, Peter John
 

This book addresses one of the enduring questions of democratic government: why do governments choose some public policies but not others? Political executives focus on a range of policy issues, such as the economy, social policy, and foreign policy, but they shift their priorities over time. Despite an extensive literature, it has proven surprisingly hard to

Overview

This book addresses one of the enduring questions of democratic government: why do governments choose some public policies but not others? Political executives focus on a range of policy issues, such as the economy, social policy, and foreign policy, but they shift their priorities over time. Despite an extensive literature, it has proven surprisingly hard to explain policy prioritisation. To remedy this gap, this book offers a new approach called public policy investment: governments enhance their chances of getting re-elected by managing a portfolio of public policies and paying attention to the risks involved. In this way, government is like an investor making choices about risk to yield returns on its investments of political capital. The public provides signals about expected political capital returns for government policies, or policy assets, that can be captured through expressed opinion in public polls. Governments can anticipate these signals in the choices they make. Statecraft is the ability political leaders have to consider risk and return in their policy portfolios and do so amidst uncertainty in the public's policy valuation. Such actions represent the public's views conditionally because not every opinion change is a price signal. It then outlines a quantitative method for measuring risk and return, applying it to the case of Britain between 1971 and 2000 and offers case studies illustrating statecraft by prime ministers, such as Edward Heath or Margaret Thatcher. The book challenges comparative scholars to apply public policy investment to countries that have separation of powers, multiparty government, and decentralization.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Bertelli and John offer a fresh and compelling lens through which to understand one of the most consequential challenges facing governments, namely deciding which issues will be given priority on the policy agenda. Building on insights from financial economics, their theory of public policy investment posits that government leaders 'invest' attention in public policies based on their assessments of the risks and returns of alternative policy portfolios. The book grounds its empirical component in modern British politics, but the concepts and insights transcend the immediate empirical setting and are broadly applicable to a wide range of policy-making environments. By focusing attention on the importance of executive leadership and the difficult business of statecraft, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in government decision-making and the public policy process."—Elisabeth R. Gerber, Jack L. Walker, Jr. Professor of Public Policy, University of Michigan

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199663972
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
01/14/2014
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Anthony Bertelli, Professor of Public Policy and Law and C.C. Crawford Chair in Management and Performance; Professor of Public Policy Analysis, University of Southern California; University of Birmingham,Peter John, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University College London

Anthony M. Bertelli is Professor of Public Policy and Law and holds the C.C. Crawford Chair in Management and Performance at the University of Southern California. He is also Professor of Public Policy Analysis at the University of Birmingham. His work explores the role of political institutions in shaping public policy outcomes and he is author of Madison's Managers: Public Administration and the Constitution (2006) and The Political Economy of Public Sector Governance (2012).

Peter John is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at University College London. He is known for his work on public policy, agenda-setting, and local politics. He is author of Analyzing Public Policy (2012), Local Governance in Western Europe (2001), Making Policy Work (2012), and Exits, Voices and Social Investment (2012). He is interested in how to involve citizens in public policy and management, and in the use of randomized controlled trials, many of which were presented in Nudge, Nudge, Think, Think: Experimenting with Ways to Change Civic Behaviour (2011). Professors Bertelli and John edit the Journal of Public Policy and are co-authors of Policy Agendas in British Politics (2013).

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