5th Edition

An Introduction to the Policy Process Theories, Concepts, and Models of Public Policy Making

By Thomas A. Birkland Copyright 2020
    448 Pages 38 Color & 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    448 Pages 38 Color & 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    448 Pages 38 Color & 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Now in a thoroughly revised Fifth Edition, An Introduction to the Policy Process provides students at all levels with an accessible, readable, and affordable introduction to the field of public policy. In keeping with prior editions, author Tom Birkland conveys the best current thinking on the policy process in a clear, conversational style. Designed to address new developments in both policy theory and policy making, the Fifth Edition includes examinations of:

    • the Brexit referendum result and its effects on the UK, European Union, and world politics, as well as the 2016 election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, and the ways in which these events have caused voters and policy makers to rethink their assumptions;
    • changes to the media environment, including the decline of newspapers and television news, the growth of social media, and the emergence of "fake news";
    • new policy theory developments like the emergence of the Narrative Policy Framework and continued and newer applications of existing theories of policy process like Advocacy Coalitions, Multiple Streams, Punctuated Equilibrium, and Institutional Analysis and Development; and
    • all-new and updated chapter "at a glance" outlines, definitions of key terms, provocative review questions, recommended reading, visual aids and case studies, theoretical literature, and preentation slides and Test Banks to make teaching from the book easier than ever.

    Firmly grounded in both social science and political science, An Introduction to the Policy Process provides the most up-to-date and thorough overview of the theory and practice of the policy process, ideal for upper-level undergraduate and introductory graduate courses in Public Policy, Public Administration, and Political Science programs.

    1. Introducing the Policy Process. 2. Elements of the Policy Making System. 3. The Historical and Structural Contexts of Public Policy Making. 4. Official Actors and Their Roles in Public Policy. 5. Unofficial Actors and Their Roles in Public Policy. 6. Agenda Setting, Power, and Interest Groups. 7. Policies and Policy Types. 8. Decision Making and Policy Analysis. 9. Policy Design and Policy Tools. 10. Policy Implementation, Failure, and Learning. 11. Science and Theory in the Study of Public Policy. Index.


    Thomas A. (Tom) Birkland is a Professor of Public Policy at North Carolina State University, where he is also the Associate Dean for Research and Engagement in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. He holds degrees from the University of Oregon (BA), Rutgers University (MA), and the University of Washington, Seattle (PhD). At North Carolina State he teaches courses on disaster policy and on the policy process. Dr. Birkland’s research is in theories of the policy process, focusing on agenda change, policy change, and learning. He is also an internationally known expert on policies related to natural disasters and industrial accidents. He is the author of two books on the subject, Lessons of Disaster and After Disaster, as well as many journal articles.  In 2020 After Disaster won the Aaron Wildavsky Enduring Contribution Award for best book or article published in the past 20-30 years, generating a major impact on the field.

    "As we have now come to expect, Dr. Birkland’s updated Fifth Edition meets and then exceeds expectations. His introductory text continues to provide a wonderfully accessible guide to the policy process that helps initiate the uninitiated, yet also offers sufficient depth and an understanding of the recent scholarship, making this text a necessity for beginning graduate students. As a quick and succinct guide to understanding the policy process, there is no better introduction out there."

    –Michael Jones, Oregon State University, USA


    "No single textbook does a better job explaining the political dynamics of public policy policymaking than An Introduction to the Policy Process. The book expertly melds theory and practice, providing students with an accessible yet comprehensive introduction to the various stages comprising the policy process. An Introduction to the Policy Process should be required reading for all students in undergraduate and graduate public policy programs."

    —Rob A. DeLeo, Bentley University, USA


    "The Fifth Edition of An Introduction to the Policy Process is an excellent resource for teachers and students in the field of policy studies. This well-written textbook provides a highly accessible and insightful introduction to the political processes that shape public policies."

    –George Busenberg, Soka University of America, USA