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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

Understanding Public Policy

Theories and Issues

ISBN 9780230229709
Publication Date October 2011
Formats Hardcover Ebook Paperback 
Publisher Palgrave

A major new introduction to theories of public policy. The author provides an accessible assessment of a wide range of theories and models from policy cycles, policy transfer, rational choice and socio-economic explanations to multi-level governance, advocacy coalitions and punctuated equilibrium and of their value to policy analysis.

  • Winner of the Richard Rose Prize

PAUL CAIRNEY is Senior Lecturer and Head of Department, Politics and International Relations, University of Aberdeen, UK.

Introduction: Theories and Issues
What is Public Policy? How Should We Study It?
Power and Public Policy
Institutions and 'New Institutionalism'
Rationality and Incrementalism
Structural Explanations
Rational Choice Theory
Multi-Level Governance
Punctuated Equilibrium
The Advocacy Coalition Framework
The Role of Ideas
Policy Transfer
Conclusion

Reviews

This important and even-handed new text will be very useful not only in teaching students but also to advanced scholars. Rather than review individual policies, Cairney focuses his attention on the theoretical approaches that allow us to make sense of the confusing relations among citizens and elites that produce government action. The result is the best available synthesis and a strong argument for cross-fertilization and the use of multiple approaches.' - Frank R. Baumgartner, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
'A unique text. Its great asset is to take an analytic approach in a field where most introductory volumes are descriptive. Well pitched for undergraduate teaching, it nevertheless addresses the cutting-edge debates on theory and models in policy analysis and highlights their key and vibrant contribution to political and social science.' - Claudio Radaelli, University of Exeter
'This welcome book provides an excellent balance between explaining the major theories of public policy and applying them in a comparative manner. Paul Cairney has a unique talent for connecting the different perspectives on public policy, which makes the book suitable for both undergraduates and graduates.' - Donley T. Studlar, West Virginia University, USA
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