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Policy Work in Multi-Level States: Institutional Autonomy and Task Allocation among Canadian Policy Analysts

  • Michael Howlett (a1) and Adam M. Wellstead (a2)
Abstract

Abstract. Despite all the attention paid to the topic of policy analysis as a conceptual endeavour, empirically, the actual work of policy analysts is little investigated and little known. This is true generally of most countries and jurisdictions but it is most acute at the subnational level of government in multilevel states. Recent work in Canada, however, based on comprehensive surveys of analysts of provincial and territorial policy, on the one hand, and regionally and Ottawa-based federal policy workers on the other, has found many similarities with national-level work but also significant differences. This work has highlighted differences in the distribution of tasks across jurisdictions—mainly the extent to which policy work involves implementation as well as formulation-related activities—as key distinctions found in policy work across levels of the Canadian multilevel system. This article uses frequency and principal components analysis (PCA) and structural equation modeling (SEM) to probe these dimensions of policy work. It shows provincial and territorial analysts to be similar to regionally based federal workers in task allocation, undermining a straightforward depiction of differences in policy work by level of government. The extent of autonomy enjoyed by policy workers in different jurisdictional venues, both from internal actors and those outside of government, is shown to be the key driver of differences in policy work across levels of government.

Résumé. Malgré toute l'attention accordée au thème de l'analyse politique comme un effort conceptuel, empirique du travail réel des analystes des politiques est peu étudié et mal connu. Ceci est vrai en général de la plupart des pays et juridictions, mais est le plus aigu au niveau sous-national de gouvernement dans les États multi-niveaux. Des travaux récents au Canada, cependant, basée sur des enquêtes complètes des provinces et des territoires, d'une part, et régional et basée à Ottawa analystes de la politique fédérale, d'autre part, a trouvé de nombreuses similitudes avec le travail au niveau national mais aussi des différences significatives. Ce travail a mis en évidence des différences dans la répartition des tâches entre les administrations – notamment la mesure dans laquelle le travail politique consiste à la mise en œuvre ainsi que la formulation des activités liées – comme les distinctions clés trouvés dans le travail politique à travers les niveaux de l'canadienne système multi-niveau. Cet article utilise la fréquence et analyse en composantes principales (ACP) et la modélisation par équations structurelles (SEM) pour sonder ces dimensions du travail politique. Il montre les analystes provinciaux et territoriaux à être semblables à l'échelle régionale basée sur les travailleurs fédéraux dans la répartition des tâches, minant une représentation directe des différences dans le travail politique, par niveau de gouvernement. Le degré d'autonomie dont jouissent les travailleurs dans les différents lieux de la politique juridictionnelle – à la fois par des acteurs internes et ceux de l'extérieur du gouvernement – se révèle être le principal moteur de différences dans le travail politique à travers les niveaux de gouvernement.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Michael Howlett, Department of Political Science, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby BC, V5A 1S6, Canada, howlett@sfu.ca
Adam M. Wellstead, Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton MI 49931-1295, USA, awellste@mtu.edu
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Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
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