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Policy Accumulation and the Democratic Responsiveness Trap


Part of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Public Policy

  • Date Published: April 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108481199

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About the Authors
  • The responsiveness to societal demands is both the key virtue and the key problem of modern democracies. On the one hand, responsiveness is a central cornerstone of democratic legitimacy. On the other hand, responsiveness inevitably entails policy accumulation. While policy accumulation often positively reflects modernisation and human progress, it also undermines democratic government in three main ways. First, policy accumulation renders policy content increasingly complex, which crowds out policy substance from public debates and leads to an increasingly unhealthy discursive prioritisation of politics over policy. Secondly, policy accumulation comes with aggravating implementation deficits, as it produces administrative backlogs and incentivises selective implementation. Finally, policy accumulation undermines the pursuit of evidence-based public policy, because it threatens our ability to evaluate the increasingly complex interactions within growing policy mixes. The authors argue that the stability of democratic systems will crucially depend on their ability to make policy accumulation more sustainable.

    • Proposes an innovative, aggregate perspective on patterns of policy change that will appeal to public policy scholars who want to better understand long-term and cross-sectional dynamics of policy change
    • Introduces policy accumulation as a new concept and allows for a broad and encompassing assessment of general developments in public policy
    • Employs both large amounts of quantitative data and detailed case studies, is written in an accessible manner and is supported by real-world examples
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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108481199
    • length: 250 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Policy accumulation and the democratic responsiveness trap:
    1.1 Accumulation and democratic overload
    1.2 Caught in a responsiveness trap
    1.3 Structure of the book
    2. Policy accumulation: concept and measurement:
    2.1 Conceptual challenges
    2.2 Targets and instruments: policy elements as a universal unit of policy accumulation
    2.3 Data and measurement
    3. Policy accumulation: a uniform trend in democratic policy making:
    3.1 Empirical patterns of policy accumulation
    3.2 Origins of policy accumulation
    3.3 The (false) promises of contemporary attempts to reverse this trend
    4. The threat to our ability to talk policy, not politics:
    4.1 Public policies as complex systems
    4.2 How policy accumulation affects the demandingness of policy debate
    4.3 Towards a representative model of discourse quality
    4.4 The divergence of policy debates
    4.5 Old vs. young policy mixes
    4.6 Implications: addressing the populist challenge
    4.7 Meanwhile, our friend John Doe …
    4.8 Complex problems, simple conclusions?
    5. The threat to effective and even policy implementation:
    5.1 The well-known challenges of policy implementation
    5.2 Policy accumulation and the increasing burdens of implementation
    5.3 The aggregate burdens of policy implementation
    5.4 Structural overload and increasing prevalence of implementation deficits?
    5.5 Meanwhile, our friend John Doe …
    5.6 Challenges for policy implementation in the twenty-first century
    6. The threat to evidence-based policy making:
    6.1 Striving for evidence-based public policy
    6.2 Evaluating policy effectiveness within increasingly complex policy mixes
    6.3 Handling the aggravating independent variable problem
    6.4 So what's the problem?
    6.5 Meanwhile, our friend John Doe …
    6.6 Implications and conclusions
    7. Ways towards sustainable policy accumulation:
    7.1 Why deregulation is not the answer
    7.2 Strengthening our democratic infrastructure
    7.3 How much should we worry?
    7.4 How can we tell? Implications for policy research
    7.5 Policy accumulation beyond politics: implications for organisational research?
    7.6 Final remarks
    8. Appendix
    9. Index
    10. References.

  • Authors

    Christian Adam, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munchen
    Christian Adam is an Assistant Professor at the Geschwister Scholl Institute of Political Science at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munchen. In his research he focuses mostly on issues that lie at the intersection of comparative public policy, judicial politics, and public administration. In this context, his main interests are analyses of the perceived legitimacy of political institutions and their decisions. His research has appeared with internationally renowned publishers and in a number of internationally renowned peer-reviewed journals, such as the Journal of Common Market Studies, The Policy Studies Journal, Policy Sciences, and Public Administration Review.

    Steffen Hurka, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munchen
    Steffen Hurka is an Assistant Professor at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munchen. He earned his doctoral degree at the University of Konstanz in 2015. In his research, Hurka mainly focuses on comparative public policy and institutional aspects of European integration. In 2015, he co-edited the volume On the Road to Permissiveness? Change and Convergence of Moral Regulation in Europe (2015). His work has appeared in journals such as Policy Studies Journal, European Journal of Political Research, European Union Politics, the Journal of European Public Policy, the Journal of Common Market Studies, and West European Politics.

    Christoph Knill, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munchen
    Christoph Knill is Chair of Political Science and Public Administration at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munchen. His main research interests lie in the areas of comparative policy analysis and comparative public administration. His most important book publications include The Europeanisation of National Administrations: Patterns of Institutional Change and Persistence (Cambridge, 2001), Environmental Policy Convergence in Europe (Cambridge, 2008, with Katharina Holzinger and Bas Arts), and On the Road to Permissiveness?: Change and Convergence of Moral Regulation in Europe (2015 with Christian Adam and Steffen Hurka).

    Yves Steinebach, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munchen
    Yves Steinebach is an Assistant Professor at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munchen. He earned his doctoral degree at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munchen in 2018. In his research, Yves Steinebach focuses on issues that lie at the intersection of comparative public policy and public administration. In this context, his main interests are analyses of the effectiveness of public policies and governing institutions. His research has appeared in a number of internationally renowned peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of European Public Policy, Regulation & Governance, Policy Sciences, and Public Administration.

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