Addressing Rationality and Irrationality in Policy Process Theories
Chair: Andreas Thiel (Universität Kassel, Germany)
Co-chair 1: Vilém Novotný (Charles University, Czech Republic)
Co-chair 1: Johanna Hornung (TU Braunschweig, Germany)
Under contemporary crises (covid-19, climate change, etc.), emotions and other irrational aspects of the policy process gain attention of public policy researchers. Policy process frameworks address irrationality in different ways but tend to emphasize various conceptions of bounded rationality. Hence, it is fruitful to assess and revise how frameworks incorporate irrationality in their conceptualizations. The section provides an opportunity for this assessment and the development of the theoretical, empirical, and methodological knowledge concerning policy change. It fosters dialogue and networks among scholars from different generations sharing common interests in the policy process.
This ongoing interest is demonstrated by the success of the 2016-2020 ECPR sections on this subject. Giving feedback to the General Conference 2020, participating policy scholars suggested to investigate the role of (ir)rationality in the policy process more thoroughly in 2021.
The section involves a mix of established and junior scholars from Europe and beyond. We welcome papers of diverse methodological orientations, focusing on sub-national, national, comparative or international settings, and addressing any functional policy domain or policy process element.
Roundtable: Development of Policy Process frameworks: Factors of Rise and Fall
Chairs: Vilém Novotný & Andreas Thiel
Reactions to emerging challenges stimulate frameworks’ development and conceptualization of (ir)rationality because they compete for the most plausible explanation from a particular perspective. The roundtable compares frameworks in different stages of their development (maturing, emerging, declining) and approaches them from a historiographic perspective with the aim to discuss factors which affect rise and fall of particular frameworks and conditions of their progressive development.
COVID-19 and the Policy Sciences: Shocks as Levers for Policy Change?
Chairs: Florence Metz (University of Twente), Nils C. Bandelow (TU Braunschweig) & Daniel Nohrstedt (Uppsala University)
The panel attracts scholarship in the policy sciences that aim to understand the dynamics related to COVID-19. Papers are welcome that employ policy process frameworks and explore the ways in which the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic impacts policy processes and decisions.
Policy Process Theories and Medium to Long-term Policy Change
Chairs: Arvind Lakshmisha (Universität Kassel) & Andreas Thiel
Discussants: Colette S. Vogeler (TU Braunschweig) and Elizabeth B. Baldwin (University of Arizona)
Policy process theories model policy change. Agency and different kinds overlaying structures (temporal, spatial, jurisdictional) and their interrelations play a role. In this panel we aim to discuss contributions that address medium to long term processes of change in policies and collective organization. We reflect, what role assumptions about agency and modes of choice play, and the conceptual and methodological strengths and weaknesses of various policy process theories in explaining change. Contributions that discuss and explain medium to long term change in policies and collective organization are invited to this debate.
Teaching the Policy Process
Chairs: Vilém Novotný & Florence Metz (University of Twente)
Discussant: Johanna Kuenzler
The policy process became an established part of policy-related curricula (with policy analysis and evaluation and design). In teaching the policy process, policy scholars have developed different but dispersed approaches how to go beyond the stage model, the iconic textbook conceptualization. The aim of the roundtable is to share various experience in the community and disseminate innovative approaches with a prospect of creating a cooperative network for better practices in teaching the policy process.
(Ir-)Rationality and the Multiple Streams Framework
Chairs and Discussants: Nicole Herweg (Heidelberg University), Nikolaos Zahariadis (Rhodes College), Reimut Zohlnhöfer (Heidelberg University)
Because of ambiguity and policy-makers‘ unclear policy preferences and time constraints, the Multiple Streams Framework (MSF) sees rational problem solving as a rare exception. Papers analyzing the (ir-)rationality of policy processes are particularly welcome in this panel as are MSF papers in general.
Major Policy Change and the Advocacy Coalition Framework
Chairs: Florence Metz (University of Twente) & Chris Weible (University of Colorado Denver)
The ACF lists several possible pathways to policy change, such as policy-oriented learning, external shocks, internal shocks and negotiated agreements. This panel welcomes empirical ACF applications, studies specifying ACF concepts, methodological innovations and research that combines the ACF with theories from other disciplines in an innovative way.
Disentangling Bounded Rationality in the IAD Framework
Chairs: Renata Buriti (Universität Kassel) & Andreas Thiel
Discussants: Tanya Heikkila (University of Colorado Denver) & Sergio Villamayor Tomas (Autonomous University of Barcelona)
The Institutional Analysis and Development Framework (IADF) is grounded in an open-minded rational choice approach, that considers actors’ modes of action selection, mental models and heuristic frameworks but also features of the context (salience of issues or culture. Emotions are less well integrated. Jurisdictional scale or type of collective and decision are further aspects that potentially qualify the bounded rationality assumption of the IADF. The panel invites contributions that aim at capturing these dimensions of actors’ choices as much as it wonders how institutions structure these behavioural aspects and vice-versa in different realms of public policy and collective action.
Rationality and Irrationality in Policy Narratives
Chairs: Johanna Kuenzler (University of Bern) & Johanna Kuhlmann (University of Bremen)
Discussant: Elizabeth Shanahan (Montana State University)
The analysis of narratives provides a promising step to approach (ir-)rationality of policy processes. What role do conceptualizations of rationality and irrationality play in narrative approaches? Is the notion of rationality compatible with narratives, and if so, how? We welcome both contributions that tackle these specific questions and general contributions to the Narrative Policy Framework and other innovative approaches to narrative analysis.
Social Groups and Identities in Policy Actors’ Minds and Action
Chairs: Johanna Hornung & Patrick Hassenteufel (Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin, Versailles (UVSQ))
Discussants: Nils C. Bandelow & Colette S. Vogeler (TU Braunschweig)
This panel provides a platform for theoretical and empirical contributions shedding light on the group-related and identity-driven factors that influence individual policy actors. We seek answers to the questions of the origins of group identification and identities, to the changing nature of social identification and certain identities (e.g. programmatic identities), and the impact these have on policy actors, across all stages of the policy process.