This course aims to give students an introduction to public policy, policy analysis and the policy process. Public policies are the instruments with which the state attempts to exercise control over the public domain. Policy analysis deals with choosing the best means to obtain a specified end. The policy process focuses on the capacity of political actors to decide about these instruments. While the theme of the course is the policy process, the examples used in the course are taken from labour market and employment policies. Welfare and employment are a key concern of industrialised and industrialising political economies, both in terms of efficiency and equity. High employment levels in formal employment indicate an efficient use of human resources and skills. Formal employment is a central factor for the distribution of wealth in modern societies.
The course is divided into four parts:
- Problem definition: Following an introduction to the main elements of the policy process, this section aims to communicate the defining characteristics of policy issues. What is a policy problem? Why and how does it emerge (or why not)? What role do ideas and policy paradigms play in their framing? What types of tools may we draw upon to solve various problems?
- Policy Instruments: Political actors have a set of tools they can employ for problem solving. Suitable tools depend on the nature of the policy problem as well as on the governmental capacity.
- Actors and institutions: This section begins by exposing students to a focus on actors and stakeholders, including their rationales. In the subsequent sessions, the perspective will be enlarged to include actor constellations, institutions and the broader context within which policies are developed, shaped and implemented by the stakeholders.
- Case presentations: The last section of the course is dedicated to the presentation and discussion of a set of policy analysis papers prepared by groups of students (see assignments). The preparation of these sessions, including the suggestion of readings, will be part of the group assignment. The last session is designed to provide a systematic comparison of the cases and hark back to the concepts and issues introduced in the first section.
This course is for 1st year MPP and MDS students only.