'Public administration in an age of austerity': Positive lessons from policy studies

Paul Alexander Cairney

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Abstract

A key aim of this special issue is to demonstrate the enduring insights of public policy studies during periods of political crisis and significant policy change. This article establishes our ability to accumulate knowledge in a field often characterised by changing empirical circumstances and changing theories. Theoretical and conceptual advance may be necessary to capture new developments, but must also be balanced with the need to build on what we already know. Periods of crisis may encourage us to upset that balance. They often encourage the idea that political change and behaviour is unprecedented; that new policy making circumstances are unique, or at least so different from the past that it is difficult to learn lessons from history and current theories. In short, the usual rules do not apply and, by extension, we need new theories that account for new practices. However, new tools need to be judged against our existing collection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-247
Number of pages18
JournalPublic Policy and Administration
Volume27
Issue number3
Early online date22 Mar 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012

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Keywords

  • administrative theory
  • central administration
  • decision making
  • implementation
  • multi-level government
  • policy making
  • public administration

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