Comparative policy analysis

In national and international debates on public policy references are often made to country rankings and league tables. Some of these are produced by international organisations, such as the OECD or the ILO, research institutes or think tanks. Many rankings are based on superficial or questionable assumptions about the comparability of policies across countries. In this course students will gain a critical understanding of the complexities of comparing policies across space and time. Building on the aims of empirical analysis (description, classification, evaluation and theoretical understanding) the course introduces students to key aspects of comparative public policy research, including: concept formation, typologies, the logic of comparative enquiry, case selection, qualitative and quantitative research designs for comparative analysis, case studies and historical comparisons. Throughout we will discuss methodological aspects while drawing on examples and illustrations from various fields of policy fields, including migration, family policy, secondary education, criminal justice policy, social welfare, employment policy, welfare reform and redistribution. In addition, students are encouraged to reflect on and apply comparative dimensions to areas of public policy they are personally interested in.