The research into public policy processes Essay Example
The research into public policy processes Essay Example

The research into public policy processes Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
  • Pages: 9 (2371 words)
  • Published: September 15, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
View Entire Sample
Text preview

Over the past 30-40 years, there has been significant progress in researching policy procedures, particularly with regards to utilizing evidence for policy-making. However, a lack of empirical case studies in developing countries currently exists. According to Nutley and Webb (2004, p.29), our understanding of how research evidence impacts the dynamics of the policy process is limited. Development policy is complex because it involves actors from both Northern and Southern contexts. Policymakers in Southern contexts face greater uncertainty due to factors like decentralization and democratization. This uncertainty is further influenced by changes in the roles of actors such as civil society and donors, as well as limited technical capacity and low demand for and supply of evidence (Court and Cotterrell 2004; Buse, Mays, and Walt 2005; Sutcliffe and Court 2005). Research on decision making in public policy processes originated in Northern contexts but has expanded to include


Southern contexts since the late 1950s/1970s/80s (Lindblom 1959, 1979; [other sources]). Numerous scholars have contributed to this research initially focused on Western contexts but now encompassing Southern contexts in recent decades (Etzioni 1976; Pressman and Wildavsky 1973; Wildavsky 1980; Hogwood and Gunn 1984).Grindle and Thomas (1980), Thomas and Grindle (1990), Walt and Gilson (1994), Court and Young (2003), Keeleyand Scoones(2003),andBrockand McGee(2004) have conducted studies on policy-making in Southern contexts. These studies challenge the previously held assumptions about the rationality and linearity of policy-making processes, as suggested by Stone, Maxwell, & Keating in 2001. Furthermore, there has been a divergence within disciplines that focus on environmental policy, with socioanthropological approaches being distinct from political economic approaches which emphasize the health sector.

Various theories and models are available to analyze the policy-makin

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

process. Examples include discourse analysis, political economy analysis, and instrumental analysis. Each approach tackles different questions related to policy dominance or research-to-policy translation while making varying assumptions about linearity and rationality in the process. Additionally, these approaches shed light on different perspectives regarding key actors such as governments, political parties, donors, civil society organizations (CSOs), and informal institutions.

Policymakers and non-policymakers are connected through different types of networks known as 'policy communities,' 'epistemic communities,' or 'advocacy alliances.' These networks are influenced by various factors including context (institutional and political/economic/socio-cultural) as well as ideas/policy narratives.Despite variations in perspectives and categorizations of networks, there are shared characteristics among models that prioritize power relations across three interconnected spheres. These models also rely on specific premises to create a synthesis model. The significance of knowledge and evidence in policy processes has been extensively researched, as evidenced by the structuration model and RAPID model. The ongoing debate surrounding the role of "evidence" in international development and its impact on research is addressed. Evidence-based policy (EBP) plays a crucial role in governmental decision-making within industrialized nations. EBP involves utilizing the most reliable research evidence when crafting and implementing policies, programs, and projects (Davies, 2004). This study focuses on comparing health policy in Andhra Pradesh (AP), India, and Vietnam with a specific emphasis on child health within these regions. The selection of these case studies aims to encompass contrasting ends of the macro-political spectrum for policy formulation. AP embodies a participatory democracy with an active civil society, while Vietnam represents a society with limited political freedoms but some level of engagement and an emerging civil society. The objective is to evaluate whether democratic

states place greater reliance on evidence compared to authoritarian states. Moreover, both AP and Vietnam share comparable population sizes and are currently experiencing periods of reform and rapid transformation.
Reforms in India began in 1992/93, while both Vietnam and India have implemented economic and political reforms since the late 1980s and early 1990s. These reforms have resulted in increased public engagement and participation. Both countries utilize multi-year development programs as important policy tools. While both nations have government-oriented healthcare systems, there has been growth in the private sector within both countries. However, the majority of the population still relies on state healthcare despite recognized deficiencies.

Regarding child health, Vietnam and India have implemented various programs addressing nutrition, immunization, maternal care, and newborn care. In India, policymakers for child health at the national level include the Planning Commission, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Human Resources. At the state level, responsibility for child health lies with the Commission for Family Welfare similar to that of the state health department. The Department of Women and Child Welfare at the local level oversees nutrition and manages the Integrated Child Development Scheme.

External funding has played a significant role in shaping India's child health policies with increasing support from donors. For a comprehensive review on policymaking in India and Andhra Pradesh (AP), please refer to Mooij's 2003 study.

Policy formation in Vietnam is a complex process involving multiple iterations during execution.Insights into this process can be found in a 2003 study by Shanks et al. and a 2004 study by Conway. According to Pham (2003), Vietnam is often perceived as a one-party state, but it operates under a unique form of consensus governance

that involves extensive dialogue vertically and horizontally across all levels and areas of government. The Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) plays a central role in Vietnamese politics, with its party Congress, central commission, and politburo handling important policy issues. The National Assembly establishes special commissions for drafting legislation, while each ministry has a CPV working group that reports to the politburo. Elected people's councils and people's commissions exist at every level from province to commune. These councils serve as the legislative branch of local government, while the commissions act as the local executive selected from the people's council. However, their actual capacity may be limited despite theoretically having responsibilities such as formulating strategies, approving budgets, and overseeing implementation. The Commission for Population, Family and Children (CPFC), which holds centralized authority in child health and has ministry status integrated at every provincial level, heavily influences policy in Vietnam along with the CPV Congress and cabinet. Additionally, the CPFC and Ministry of Health's Department for Reproductive Health also have some influence on policy decisions in Vietnam.
Policy formation in Vietnam involves the participation of various ministries, including the Ministry of Planning and Investing and Ministry of Finance. Recently, provincial approval has become necessary for major policy determinations in Vietnam. Public engagement is mandated through a grassroots democracy decree, with the Fatherland Front's Council for Consultancy consisting of 250 individuals and 31 mass organizations facilitating this process. These organizations include the Motherland Front, Farmers' Union, Women's Union, and General Labour Union, each playing different policy roles at different levels. Specialized research institutions such as medical schools and health service schools are crucial contributors to national-level planning. Independent NGOs and

the private sector have experienced significant growth in Vietnam; however, their roles can be ambiguous due to blurred lines between state and non-state entities. The media also plays a vital role in policy formation, although access to newspapers is limited in rural areas. Donors also have an increasingly prominent role in shaping policies. Similarly, India has implemented decentralization in its healthcare system where responsibility for healthcare policies is shared between the central government and local authorities. The central government establishes national policies and develops health laws while province governments interpret and implement these laws at the local level.
The central government primarily covers capital costs, while provinces fund recurrent costs. Kerala actively pursues local agendas compared to other provinces like Andhra Pradesh. Both Vietnam and India are currently implementing decentralization in their respective countries, with Vietnam aiming to have half of government spending decided at the local level by 2008, similar to India. However, both countries face challenges in their healthcare systems due to underfunding in the public sector, leading to criticisms about healthcare quality delivery.

It is important to note that this information may no longer be up-to-date as it was not clearly stated when this text was written. Policy formation in both countries follows a nationally set framework but allows for local implementation and increasing decentralization. In AP, India, there is an expected higher demand for evidence among policy influencers influenced by international discourses on domestic policy, a more professional bureaucracy, and the ability to process evidence.

The utilization of multi-year planning in both countries also stimulates the demand for evidence. Many stakeholders attribute this increased demand for evidence to aid donors who advocate for better

information and support improvements in its quality for policy making in Parliament. The frequent involvement of donors suggests that their influence may have shifted from policy conditionality to intellectual influence.Another recurring aspect is the mention of the Lancet series on child survival, which has been widely distributed by donors to local policy influencers in both AP and Vietnam. Furthermore, researchers play a significant role in selling ideas effectively to bureaucrats with limited attention spans through their entrepreneurship skills. Additionally, I want to genuinely know how traveling will benefit him or what he purchases. Moreover, I want to inquire about successful approaches in a similar context. An academic researcher provided an example stating that policymakers pay attention when they observe a context similar to their own. The main obstacles include supply-side factors such as research quality and relevance, as well as the perception of separate worlds between researchers and policymakers. A civil servant highlighted a gap between increased awareness among policymakers and our institutions' ability to generate policy-relevant research. Furthermore, a donor pointed out reliability issues with child health data due to conflicting information from various organizations, resulting in significant discrepancies and suggesting problems with data quality. Ultimately, the concept of "different universes" was raised concerning both supply and demand sides, summed up by one academic researcher who said it sometimes feels like we are speaking from different planets.The combination of quantitative and qualitative methods can lead to unique investigations into the qualitative aspect. However, policy shapers may not have a strong understanding of more advanced techniques such as multivariate analysis. Several studies have identified similarities in perceiving different universes and the packaging or serviceability of

research. It is argued that research should be specific, concrete, cost-effective, and offer short-term solutions. Limited evidence suggests that high turnover of policymaking staff is not a significant issue. Previous studies indicate that Vietnam and AP may have more stable civil orders than previously believed. Donors now play a new role in promoting evidence-based policy making. However, the definition of quality in policy processes is broad and subjective. Past research found South Africa had poor quality due to ineffective writing, while Pakistan had low quality with bias and questionable data. A previous survey conducted in Vietnam emphasized the importance of quality determined by methodological analysis, absence of conflicting studies, and involvement from the Government Statistical Office (Harpham and Tuan 2006, p.7). The issue of evidence quality has been highlighted in RAPID's 50 case studies as well as a study involving 42 senior policymakers from 26 developing countries conducted by the Global Development Network (Dinello and Squire 2002; Court et al., 2005).The International Development Research Canada (IDRC) has expressed concerns regarding the perception of quality in policymaking where certain sources considered high-quality are trusted (IDRC 2004). In the context of health policy, Davies and Nutley (2004, p.58) argue that there is a distinction between "hard" evidence, which is objective and quantitative, and "soft" evidence, which is subjective and qualitative. Traditional criteria for judging research quality included publication in peer-reviewed journals or funding through peer review processes. However, Becker, Bryman, and Sempik (2006, pp.7-8) found that when surveying social policy researchers and research users about their definition of "quality" in social policy research, the reputation or name of the publication ranked low on their considerations list. Existing

research indicates that different stakeholders involved in policymaking hold varying perspectives on what constitutes 'quality' evidence for informing policies. Case studies suggest that policy-makers often view non-governmental organizations' (NGOs) research as unreliable compared to studies conducted by international financial institutions whom they trust more.Policy-makers have a tendency to favor information from 'trusted sources', while NGOs are skeptical of studies conducted by the World Bank/IMF. Davies (2004) also noted differences in understanding between policymakers and researchers regarding what qualifies as 'evidence', with policymakers valuing contextual and practical evidence, while researchers prioritize scientific and substantiated evidence. Nutley, Davies, and Walter (2002) emphasize that policymakers and researchers have different languages, priorities, agendas, timelines, and systems for rewarding achievements. The concept of 'different worlds' can explain the varying perceptions concerning quality evidence. Despite an increase in the use of 'evidence' in policy procedures such as research, there is a lack of empirical case studies in developing countries. In the field of health policy, two countries and an international context have been included along with five existing studies. This raises questions about the acquisition of new knowledge. Is the prevalence of 'evidence' usage higher in democratic states compared to authoritarian states? Additionally, other factors influencing the utilization of 'evidence' require further exploration. Insufficient research has been conducted on the role and usage of 'evidence' in policy procedures within international development. Further case studies indicate that a country's democratic or authoritarian nature does not necessarily determine its utilization of evidenceFactors such as international discourses on domestic policy, policy freshness, bureaucratic professionalism and evidence processing capacity, donor influence, and multi-year planning can guide the utilization of evidence. In our case studies, we

found that donors have a strong influence, and both the demand for evidence and researchers' entrepreneurship contribute to exploring effective approaches in similar contexts. Barriers to research utilization include poor-quality research, lack of relevance, market conditions, and perceived differences between researchers and policymakers. Further investigation in different policy-making contexts would help understand these barriers better. Although the divide between researchers and policymakers is less pronounced now than before, there still exists a clear separation with uncertain shifts. Prevailing notions of high quality shape healthcare policy; however, my study challenges the belief that hierarchy solely depends on methodological soundness by highlighting the significance of packaging, branding, publication location, institutional affiliation, and argument framing in determining how research quality is perceived.It is important to investigate this issue in various policy-making contexts in order to gain a better understanding of policy formation and the use of evidence. Exploring how evidence is utilized through further research and discussions on the topic is valuable. Additionally, examining different hierarchies of evidence within the policy-making process is crucial.

Get an explanation on any task
Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds