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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2000
Tired of trying to keep up with the pace in public policy research? Ta-da! Theories of the Policy Process offers some nice introductory essays on current public policy research, with a focus on (guess what...) theoretical developments. Each major theory is given a chapter of its own, written by distinguished scholars, often the actual parents of the theories. Among the theories covered are Institutional Rational Choice (by Ostrom), Multiple Streams and Garbage Can (by Zahariadis - not Kingdon), Advocacy Coalitions (by Sabatier and Jenkins-Smith) and Punctuated Equilibrium (by True, Baumgartner and Jones). The collection ends with a very good synthesizing chapter by Schlager, where the theories are compared and essential diffrences are higlighted.
This collection is extremely useful to get updated on the latest developments in Public Policy. Lots of good, fresh references, and very accessible and authoritative introductions to the field. Yet, since the collection does not offer anything substantially new, a fifth star is not motivated. Still a very good buy.
I would not recommend it for use in introductory public policy-courses, though. Too abstract and theoretical for that. This is for people already familiar with the field.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This edited work is now in its second edition. In that, it has updated its summary of theories to cover new approaches and deleted a couple chapters from the first edition that are no longer as useful for the analyst and student of public policy.

Interested in how an evolutionary theory of change among species, punctuated equilibrium, has any relevance for our understanding of policy? Then read the chapter by True, Baumgartner and Jones. What about the impact of chance and contingency on what issues gain access to the political agenda versus those that might not gain governmental discussion and consideration? Read the chapter on Kingdon's "multiple streams" theory, written in this volume by Zahariadis.

Ingram and Schneider (with deLeon) have added a chapter to this edition not in the prior one. Their theory of social construction and its effect on policy has become widely recognized in recent years and is included in this edition. Network organizations are increasingly viewed as critical structures in the delivery of services. The private sector, nonprofits, and the public sector collaborate within networks to achieve public goals. The chapter by Adam and Kriesi is new to this edition and a welcome addition.

And so on.

The work ends with a comparison of different theories (by Schlager) and a reflection on how to enhance development of policy theory (by the editor, Sabatier).

Any edited volume like this can be questioned for why certain items were included and others excluded. Edited volumes often end up lacking cohesion. However, this edited work does its subject justice and is a useful book for those with some background in policy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2009
Sabatier's revised edition is even better than the first, since it corrects the Ameri-centric faults of that text and adds additional theoretical approaches.

The study of public policy formation is sadly lacking is quality texts that link theory to practice. This text DOES NOT do that. What it does, as I find, is provide a careful set of arguments for a wide variety of theories and frameworks that I've been able to use to make that connection. I'm considering using the text in my upper level Comparative Public Policy text, and am certainly using it as a foundation for the text I'm currently working on.

That said, it's heavy going for undergraduates. I needed to do a lot more hand-holding than I expected to get the students through the chapters.

-William Field
Rutgers University
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2012
As a person not terribly interested in the subject matter (I am a student in an interdisciplinary science/policy masters and have found my interests lie heavily on the side of the science only), I was surprised with how accessible this book was. The contribution of different experts makes the text more enjoyable to read by mixing up the styles, and every single chapter was meticulously organized with a summary at the beginning describing the various models and then headers for each sub-section. I found that this helped to break up what could have been otherwise dense sections and made note-taking easier.

Obviously no one reading this is doing so for light summer reading, but I do think it's worth noting as another reviewer did before that this is probably not a great resource for undergraduates or those looking for a simple policy overview. It was fairly theoretical and probably could have benefited from more frequent or extended examples. Elinor Ostrom's chapter was particularly dry and difficult to get through, which was disappointing from someone who was such an intellectual giant!

4/5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2010
The first edition was very useful when I was trying to get a handle on policy theory. Now that I'm planning on using these theories as a framework, this edition has allowed me to find more recent research on these policies. Highly recommended as a one-stop shop for reviewing different lenses on policy processes.
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on January 7, 2014
I the book is good. It was required for Advanced Healthcare Policy course and was very useful. My instructor actually copied chapters and gave to us, so I wish I hadn't bought it.
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on March 6, 2015
Already reviwed. Gave an excellent rating. Thank you.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2015
Personally I found this too be a pretty frustrating text book. Its essentially a collection of journal articles that if you prof or ta took the time they could probably show you where to find them at your schools online database
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2013
Even though this book was a requirement for a class it still came very timely and in good shape!! It is an interesting book and i traded it back in at the end of the semester which is a great feature on here!
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0 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2010
The product was delivered in 3 weeks which was good. However, I had expected the book to have a stronger cover.
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