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Operationalising the Concept of ''Radical Policy Change'' - Theoretical and Empirical Issues

Manuele Citi
Copenhagen Business School
Manuele Citi
Copenhagen Business School
Open Panel

Abstract

How can we theoretically define the concept of ‘radical policy change’? What is its conceptual ‘intension’ and ‘extension’? How can we operationalize it for the purpose of empirical analysis? The current literature on policy stability and change has focused, from time to time, on different features that can be taken as indicators of a radical departure from the status quo: change in the policy image/paradigm, change in the underlying policy instruments, venue shift, non-incremental changes in budgetary allocation, and discontinuous changes in the ‘regulatory density’ of a definite policy area. Yet, the literature has so far failed to precisely define the theoretical and empirical meaning of ‘radical’ as opposed to ‘incremental’ policy change, and to provide a unified framework of analysis, capable of keeping together all the above-mentioned manifestations of policy change. In this paper, I will address the problem of bridging the theoretical and empirical meaning of the concept of radical policy change. In order to do that, I will define, for each of the policy types (regulatory, distributive, redistributive) a scale of intensity, containing the full spectrum of possible policy responses, from pure status quo to radical policy change. The aim is to create a useful tool for assessing and comparing the magnitude of policy change across different countries and across different policy areas. Moreover, the aim is to create a useful instrument for evaluating and comparing the policy reform capacity of different political systems, i.e. their capacity to reform more or less radically their current policy choices.