Understanding Policy Fiascoes

Overview

A crisis of governance is widespread in western societies. Public administration is caught in a web of personal and organizational inter-dependencies that require continuous awareness and readjustment on the part of its practitioners. Understanding Policy Fiascoes applies policy analysis to come to terms with policy fiascoes, with a full appreciation of its limits. Despite the fact that policy failures may seem universal, they are in fact better understood as social, political and academic constructions. Bovens ...

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Overview

A crisis of governance is widespread in western societies. Public administration is caught in a web of personal and organizational inter-dependencies that require continuous awareness and readjustment on the part of its practitioners. Understanding Policy Fiascoes applies policy analysis to come to terms with policy fiascoes, with a full appreciation of its limits. Despite the fact that policy failures may seem universal, they are in fact better understood as social, political and academic constructions. Bovens and ’tHart trace how and why certain episodes of public policymaking become labeled as “fiascoes.” They highlight the analytical and political biases that shape our judgments of policy outcomes and the performance of policymakers and institutions.

When put in their proper historical, institutional, and policymaking perspective, many policy fiascoes could easily have turned out quite differently. The authors show that the fact that these policy episodes unfolded as they did does not mean that they were inevitable. Careful analysis indicates that a whole series of variables, if not always manageable, can, through careful configurations of decisions, alter the course and outcomes of policies and programs, as well as the post-hoc judgments made about them.

In examining public policymaking, certain questions arise: If public policymaking has failed so miserably, what does this tell us about the state of policy analysis? While policymakers are facing a crisis of legitimacy, policy analysis have been forced to reconsider the validity o their knowledge claims and the extent of their impact on the practice of policymaking. Understanding Policy Fiascoes will provide social scientists, policymakers, and political scientists with compelling perspectives on old problems and a path-breaking way to handle new problems.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“The subject of this well-researched book, [is] the sources of policy failures in Western democracies… An excellent supplement to more general works.”

—D. L. Feldman, Choice

“[Understanding Policy Fiascoes] is a major contribution to the literature and should be on the bookshelf of all scholars in the field of public policy.”—B. Guy Peters, Journal of Politics

Booknews
The authors show how not only partisan but also scientific discourse on policy events contains many biases that promote or prevent events from being labeled as fiascoes. They demonstrate that professional policy evaluation takes place in the context of highly politicized processes of judgement, and reveal how the results of professional evaluations are used by different factions as ammunition in political struggles. For policymakers and professional policy evaluators. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560002147
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/31/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 173
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
1 Understanding Policy Fiascoes 1
2 Assessing Policy Outcomes: Social and Political Biases 21
3 Identifying Agents: The Ontology of Policymaking 53
4 Identifying Agents: Misfortune or Mismanagement? 73
5 Explaining Agents' Behavior: Implicit Frames 93
6 Evaluating Agents' Behavior: Analysis as Accusing and Excusing 129
7 Epilogue: Making Sense of Policy Fiascoes 145
Bibliography 161
Index 171
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