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Policy Consultancy in Comparative Perspective

Policy Consultancy in Comparative Perspective
Patterns, Nuances and Implications of the Contractor State


Part of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Public Policy

  • Publication planned for: January 2020
  • availability: Not yet published - available from January 2020
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108496674

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About the Authors
  • Many Western countries have seen an increase in the volume and importance of external consultants in the public policy process. This book is the first to investigate this phenomenon in a comparative and interdisciplinary way. The analysis shows who these consultants are, how widely and for what reasons they are used in Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, The Netherlands and Sweden. In doing so, the book addresses the positive and negative implications of high levels of external policy consultancy, including its implications for the nature of the state (transforming into a contractor state?) and for democratically legitimized and accountable decision-making (transforming into consultocracy?). It provides valuable new insights for students and practitioners in the fields of public administration, public policy, public management, political science and human resource management.

    • Provides insights into policy consultancy from an interdisciplinary point of view involving public administration, management, policy studies and political science
    • The first international-comparative study of policy consultancy involving six countries belonging to various political-administrative traditions - allowing a better understanding of public policy consultancy from different continents
    • Takes the conceptualization of policy consultancy, the contractor state and consultocracy to the next level and provides readers with more elaborated conceptual tools for understanding policy consultancy
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Policy consultancy - 'the invisible public service' - has for a long time been somewhat of a blind spot in policy analysis. Caspar van den Berg, Michael Howlett, Andrea Migone, Michael Howard, Frida Pemer and Helen M. Gunter make a strong case that policy consultancy is far more important than the previous literature suggests. They sustain this argument by [providing] a detailed comparative analysis of policy consultancy in six countries representing three different types of institutional systems and administrative traditions. The book is a valuable resource to students and scholars in public administration, public management and political science.' Jon Pierre, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

    'We have known for some time that consultants can play an important role in governments - as part of consultocracy or the contracting state - but details have been elusive. This study of policy consultancy in six countries, representing three systems of government, opens this field up to scrutiny. What do policy consultants do and to what effect and how does their use vary and compare with other forms of external advice? In addressing these issues, the book will become a key resource for policymakers and scholars in public administration and policy and political sciences.' Andrew Sturdy, University of Bristol and co-author of Management as Consultancy

    'This book fills a blind spot in the study of public policy and public administration. Consultants, especially policy consultancy, could be part of a solution, by thinking out of the box, but also, could become part of a problem, when a public sector contracts out its brains. The authors show a reality which is much more complex than just bureaucrats and consultocrats by giving a convincing picture of how supply and demand of ideas dynamically interact in different countries.' Geert Bouckaert, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

    'Policy Consultancy in Comparative Perspective is a long-needed book that sheds light on the use of consultants, its scope, causes and implications. This empirically rich book is a valuable contribution to the field of public administration by showing how and why central governments increasingly turn to policy consultants and that in the contractor state the distinction between internal public servants and external consultants becomes evermore blurred. Everyone interested in the internal dynamics of governments and patterns of change in policy-making should read this book.' Thurid Hustedt, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin

    'This is an important book, rich in its theoretical, empirical and comparative approach. By focusing on the role that consultants have come to play in the policy arena, it fills a gap in the public policy literature and clearly introduces something new that students of public administration need to be concerned with. The impact of these consultants has largely been ignored and this important work puts them where they belong: that is, in the mix of the forces that shape public policies. The work explores the multifarious tasks they perform in the policy-making arena: from analyzing … advising … recommending, and even to communicating and publicizing policies.' Ezra Suleiman, IBM Professor of International Studies, Princeton University, New Jersey

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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: January 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108496674
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 mm
    • contains: 21 b/w illus. 61 tables
    • availability: Not yet published - available from January 2020
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    List of tables
    Author biographies
    List of abbreviations
    1. Policy consultancy in comparative perspective
    2. Consultancy in the UK Government: modernising privatism
    3. Policy consulting in the USA: significant but in decline? 4. Entrenched and escalating: policy-relevant consulting and contracting in Australia, 1987–2017
    5. From corporatist to contractor state? Policy consulting in The Netherlands
    6. Policy consultants for substance and process: a review of the supply and demand for Canadian policy consulting
    7. Swedish government agencies' hiring of policy consultants: a phenomenon of increased magnitude and importance? 8. Conclusion: policy consulting in comparative perspective
    Appendix A
    Appendix B
    Appendix C
    Appendix D
    Appendix E
    Appendix F

  • Authors

    Caspar van den Berg, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands
    Caspar van den Berg is Professor of Governance at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands. His work has appeared in journals including Governance, Public Administration and JPART. He received the prestigious Van Poelje Prize for best dissertation in the administrative and policy sciences in The Netherlands and Flanders. He was a visiting fellow at Princeton University (2013–2014) and received a prominent four-year Veni scholarship from the Dutch Science Organization (2015).

    Michael Howlett, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia
    Michael Howlett is Burnaby Mountain Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Political Science at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia. He specializes in public policy studies with an emphasis on natural resource and environmental policy-making. He is currently editor of Policy Sciences, Policy Design and Practice, the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, Policy & Society and the Annual Review of Policy Design.

    Andrea Migone, Institute of Public Administration of Canada
    Andrea Migone is Director of Research and Outreach at the Institute of Public Administration of Canada. He specializes in public policy and public administration. His academic career includes work on decision-making, globalization, innovation policy, procurement and governance. He was a post-doctoral research fellow at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia

    Michael Howard, University of Newcastle, New South Wales
    Michael Howard is a lecturer at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales. His career has spanned teaching and research in public policy in both academic and advocacy settings, along with policy development and service delivery within innovative government programs. His publications have centered on historical aspects of policy-making and contemporary commercialization trends in the public sector, with a focus on consultants.

    Frida Pemer, Stockholm School of Economics
    Frida Pemer is Assistant Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics. Her research centers on how organizations use professional services, and on digitalization in professional service firms. She has published her work in highly-ranked journals like JPART, Governance, Human Relations, Industrial Marketing Management, and the Journal of Business Research.

    Helen M. Gunter, University of Manchester
    Helen M. Gunter is Professor of Education Policy at the University of Manchester. She is a Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences, and recipient of the BELMAS Distinguished Service Award 2016. She is author of Consultants and Consultancy: the Case of Education (2017; co-authored with Colin Mills) and her most recent book is The Politics of Public Education (2018).

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