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Towards a More Robust Policy Advice System: Partisan Advisers and the Political Lens of Policy Advice

Jonathan Craft
University of Toronto
Jonathan Craft
University of Toronto
Open Panel

Abstract

Roles, activities, and impacts of partisan ministerial advisers within traditionally bilateral relations of political-administrative elites remains understudied. Theorized shifts from the traditional public administration paradigm to those rooted in the governance approaches compounds the need to test assumptions regarding the policy-making activities and advice functions of these actors. This small-n comparative study sets out a framework for analysis of these newly institutionalized actors policy advise roles. The paper reports on early results from dissertation case work flowing from Canadian interview findings from sub-national elite interviews in four policy sectors: agriculture, environment, health and finance. Interviews were conducted with Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and political staff from minister’s offices as well as premier’s offices. The research questions driving this study are: (1) what, if any, role do political advisers play related to policy advice giving, or ‘filtering’? (2) If involved, at what ‘stage’ of policy-making and advising is their involvement pronounced? (3) If involved, to what extent are political policy advisers affecting traditional notions of public management? (4) What, if any, variance is related to policy sector or institutional location of such actors? (5) Are political advisers perceived to be providing contestability of traditional policy advice? It begins by situating political policy advisers within broader politico-administrative relations literature. It subsequently develops a typology for assessing the typical policy-advice giving roles and functions of partisan ministerial policy advisers. The paper concludes by reporting initial findings related to their roles in policy-making and policy advice giving activities by policy sector and institutional location.