School of Social and Political Sciences - Research Publications

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    Teaching Policy Design: Themes, Topics & Techniques
    Bali, AS ; Bakir, C ; Howlett, M ; Lewis, JM ; Schmidt, S (Editora Blucher, 2021-12-01)
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    Are policy tools and governance modes coupled? Analysing welfare-to-work reform at the frontline
    Lewis, JM ; Nguyen, P ; Considine, M (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2021-09-11)
    ABSTRACT This paper considers the link between policy tools and governance modes – the characteristic ways frontline staff are meta-governed. It asks: Are substantive policy tools coupled to procedural tools (governance modes) that can guide local service delivery agencies and the work of individuals delivering welfare services? The substantive policy tools in this case are those typically utilised to reform welfare-to-work services: contracting-out of services and competitive tendering, and the regulation of quasi-markets. These are hypothesised to flow through to procedural policy tools in the form of corporate and market incentives and regulatory (bureaucratic) methods that shape how work is done (governance modes), privileging certain practice orientations at the frontline. Policy makers seek to shape these meta-level governance modes because they should result in systemic change, based on a reconfiguration of policy actors and their interrelationships, for both service delivery agencies and the individuals working in them. We identified four ideal-type governance modes (bureaucratic, corporate, market and network) and tracked which of these were dominant in-practice at the frontline in Australia and the UK at two levels: office and personal, at four points in time (1998, 2008, 2012 and 2016). We found that the dominant mode of organisation at the office level was corporate, followed by bureaucratic in both nations. But the bureaucratic mode had grown in strength over time, particularly in Australia, and as a personal priority for staff, as re-regulation occurred. The results indicate a coupling between substantive policy tools and governance modes at the frontline of welfare-to-work.
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    Procedural policy tools in theory and practice INTRODUCTION
    Bali, AS ; Howlett, M ; Lewis, JM ; Ramesh, M (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2021-08-18)
    ABSTRACT Policy tools are a critical part of policy-making, providing the ‘means’ by which policy ‘ends’ are achieved. Knowledge of their different origin, nature and capabilities is vital for understanding policy formulation and decision-making, and they have been the subject of inquiry in many policy-related disciplines and sector-specific studies. Yet many crucial aspects of policy tools remain unexplored. Existing studies on policy tools used in policy formulation tend to focus on ‘substantive’ tools – those used to directly affect policy outcomes such as regulation or subsidies – and largely neglect ‘procedural’ tools used to indirectly but significantly affect policy processes and outcomes. A key aim of this special issue is to fill this knowledge gap in the field. This article introduces the issue by establishing that procedural tools play a more determining role in public policy-making than is generally acknowledged and deserve a more systematic inquiry into their workings, their impact on the policy process and the organization and delivery of public and private goods and services.
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    The rise of public sector innovation labs: experiments in design thinking for policy
    McGann, M ; Blomkamp, E ; Lewis, JM (SPRINGER, 2018-09-01)
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    Understanding, measuring, and encouraging public policy research impact
    Williams, K ; Lewis, JM (Wiley, 2021)
    Academics undertaking public policy research are committed to tackling interesting questions driven by curiosity, but they generally also want their research to have an impact on government, service delivery, or public debate. Yet our ability to capture the impact of this research is limited because impact is under-theorised, and current systems of research impact evaluation do not allow for multiple or changing research goals. This article develops a conceptual framework for understanding, measuring, and encouraging research impact for those who seek to produce research that speaks to multiple audiences. The framework brings together message, medium, audience, engagement, impact, evaluation, and affordance within the logics of different fields. It sets out a new way of considering research goals, measurements, and incentives in an integrated way. By accounting for the logics of different fields, which encompass disciplinary, institutional, and intrinsic factors, the framework provides a new way of harnessing measurements and incentives towards fruitful learning about the contribution diverse types of public policy research can make to wider impact.
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    Improving public policy and administration: exploring the potential of design
    van Buuren, A ; Lewis, JM ; Peters, BG ; Voorberg, W (Policy Press, 2020-01-01)
    In recent years, design approaches to policymaking have gained popularity among policymakers. However, a critical reflection on their added value and on how contemporary ‘design-thinking’ approaches relates to the classical idea of public administration as a design science, is still lacking. This introductory paper reflects upon the use of design approaches in public administration. We delve into the more traditional ideas of design as launched by Simon and policy design, but also into the present-day design wave, stemming from traditional design sciences. Based upon this we distinguish between three ideal-type approaches of design currently characterising the discipline: design as optimisation, design as exploration and design as co-creation. More rigorous empirical analyses of applications of these approaches is necessary to further develop public administration as a design science. We reflect upon the question of how a more designerly way of thinking can help to improve public administration and public policy.
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    Exploring productivity and collaboration in Australian Indigenous health research, 1995-2008
    Rumbold, AR ; Cunningham, J ; Purbrick, B ; Lewis, JM (BMC, 2013-11-08)
    BACKGROUND: Building research capacity in Indigenous health has been recognised as integral in efforts to reduce the significant health disparities between Indigenous and other Australian populations. The past few decades have seen substantial changes in funding policy for Australian Indigenous health research, including increases in overall expenditure and a greater focus on collaborative and priority-driven research. However, whether these policy shifts have resulted in any change to the structure of the research workforce in this field is unclear. We examine research publications in Australian Indigenous health from 1995-2008 to explore trends in publication output, key themes investigated, and research collaborations. METHODS: A comprehensive literature search was undertaken to identify research publications about Australian Indigenous health from 1995-2008. Abstracts of all publications identified were reviewed by two investigators for relevance. Eligible publications were classified according to key themes. Social network analyses of co-authorship patterns were used to examine collaboration in the periods 1995-1999, 2000-2004 and 2005-2008. RESULTS: Nine hundred and fifty three publications were identified. Over time, the number of publications per year increased, particularly after 2005, and there was a substantial increase in assessment of health service-related issues. Network analyses revealed a highly collaborative core group of authors responsible for the majority of outputs, in addition to a series of smaller separate groups. In the first two periods there was a small increase in the overall network size (from n = 583 to n = 642 authors) due to growth in collaborations around the core. In the last period, the network size increased considerably (n = 1,083), largely due to an increase in the number and size of separate groups. The general size of collaborations also increased in this period. CONCLUSIONS: In the past few decades there has been substantial development of the research workforce in Indigenous health, characterised by an increase in authors and outputs, a greater focus on some identified priority areas and sustained growth in collaborations. This has occurred in conjunction with significant changes to funding policy for Indigenous health research, suggesting that both productivity and collaboration may be sensitive to reform, including the provision of dedicated funding.
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    The limits of policy labs: characteristics, opportunities and constraints
    Lewis, JM (TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2021-04-03)
    Policy labs are promoted as providing supportive structures and processes for innovation. Their contributions to policy advisory systems are seen as residing in developing creative policy solutions “outside” traditional bureaucratic structures, and in providing experimental sites for solving problems. This paper examines the characteristics of policy labs in terms of their organizational forms, size, focus and the methods that they employ. It then analyses the opportunities and constraints that labs have in relation to policy design. Labs can be government-controlled, government-enabled, government-led or independently run. They are typically small and tend to be short-lived. Labs often focus on “design” methods. Their autonomy and close connection to citizens and communities provide opportunities, and design-led approaches are helpful in reframing policy problems and finding a broader set of potential solutions. While a key strength is flexibility, labs are comparatively easy to shut down, defund, or ignore, and their survival depends on political patronage. Labs also face constraints in terms of operational capacity and their favored (design) methods, which clash with standard policy processes and bureaucratic structures. Policy labs certainly provide capabilities for improving the design of public policies. However, labs reside in broader policy advisory systems and alone, they cannot provide the solution to all policy design challenges.
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    When design meets power: Design thinking, public sector innovation and the politics of policymaking
    Lewis, J ; McGann, M ; Blomkamp, E (Policy Press, 2019)
    Responding to the need for innovation, governments have begun experimenting with ‘design thinking’ approaches to reframe policy issues and generate and test new policy solutions. This paper examines what is new about design thinking and compares this to rational and participatory approaches to policymaking, highlighting the difference between their logics, foundations and the basis on which they ‘speak truth to power’. It then examines the impact of design thinking on policymaking in practice, using the example of public sector innovation (PSI) labs. The paper concludes that design thinking, when it comes in contact with power and politics, faces significant challenges, but that there are opportunities for design thinking and policymaking to work better together.
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    Enlisting the support of trusted sources to tackle policy problems: The case of antimicrobial resistance
    Martin, A ; Gravelle, TB ; Baekkeskov, E ; Lewis, J ; Kashima, Y ; Gualano, MR (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2019-03-21)
    Antimicrobial resistance represents one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. Governments around the world have—and will continue to—develop policy proposals to deal with this problem. However, the capacity of government will be constrained by very low levels of trust in government. This stands in contrast to ‘medical scientists’ who are highly trusted by the public. This article tests to what extent trusted sources can alter attitudes towards a policy proposal to regulate the use of antibiotics. We find that respondents are much more likely to support a policy put forward by ‘medical scientists.’ This article provides some initial evidence that medical scientists could be used to gain support for policies to tackle pressing policy challenges such as AMR.