Public Policy, Governance and Polarization: Making Governance Work, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Public Policy, Governance and Polarization

Making Governance Work, 1st Edition

Edited by David K. Jesuit, Russell Alan Williams


234 pages | 18 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2017-07-06
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Polarization is widely diagnosed as a major cause of the decline of evidence-based policy making and public engagement-based styles of policy making. It creates an environment where hardened partisan viewpoints on major policy questions are less amenable to negotiation, compromise or change. Polarization is not a temporary situation – it is the “new normal.”

Public Policy, Governance and Polarization seeks to provide a theoretical foundation for scholars and policy makers who need to understand the powerful and often disruptive forces that have arisen in Europe and North America over the past decade. Academics and practitioners need to better understand this growing trend and to find ways in which it may be managed so that policy solutions to these threats may be developed and implemented.

Researchers and future policymakers in fields such as public administration, public management and public policy need to recognise how institutional design, corporatist interest group systems and different pedagogical approaches may help them understand, discuss and work beyond policy polarization. Edited by two leading political science scholars, this book aims to begin that process.


Contemporary public administration scholars are paying more attention to evidence-based policy, while largely neglecting the greater polarization of political systems recently characterizing North America and the European Union. Public Policy, Governance and Polarization: Making Governance Work, edited by Jesuit and Williams, takes the readers into the causes, nature, and consequences of ideological polarization, determining the extent to which it might inhibit evidence-based policy formulation and be an obstacle to public engagement-based styles of policy making.

Denita Cepiku, Professor of Global public management, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy.

Public Policy, Governance and Polarization: Making Governance Work provides a workable definition of ‘polarization’ in politics and the production of public policy. The co-authors use comparative case studies from the United States, Canada, and Europe as a means of better understanding the causes and effects of political polarization. These analyses assert that political polarization is here to stay and will likely grow even more pronounced in the coming years. Consequently, public administrators must learn how to work with and manage polarization.

Nicholas Bauroth, Associate Professor of Political Science at North Dakota State University, USA.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction and Overview: Polarization Explained and Applied

Jeremy Castle, David K. Jesuit and Russell Alan Williams

Section 1: Polarized Mass Publics and Electoral Politics

1. Concerted Action in Complex Environments: A Comparison of Industrial Restructuring in Mid-Sized City-Regions in Canada and the United States

Charles Conteh

2. Lines in the Sand: How Americans’ Polarization Results in Unwillingness to Accept Compromise Policy Outcomes

J. Cherie Strachan, Daniel M. Shea and Michael Wolf

3. Can Unequal Distributions of Wealth Influence Vote Choice? A Comparative Study of Germany, Sweden and the United States

Lindsay Flynn and Piotr R. Paradowski



Section 2: An Example of Polarization: The Climate Change Debate

4. Consensual Environmental Policy in the Anthropocene: Governing What Humanity Hath Wrought

Robert Bartlett and Walter F. Baber

5. Polarized Climate Debate? Institutions and Structure in Subnational Policymaking

Russell Williams and Susan Morrissey Wyse

6. Polarised business interests: EU climate policy-making during the "Great Recession"

Raffael Hanschmann

Section 3: Potential Remedies to Polarized Policymaking

7. Comparative National Energy Policies and Climate Change Actions in Countries with Divided and Unified Governments: Reflections, Projections and Opportunities for Improved Pedagogy

Thomas Rohrer and Pamela S. Gates

8. Exploring the Mediating Effects of Institutions on Polarization and Political Conflict: Evidence from Michigan Cities

Nathan Grasse, Thomas Greitens, Lawrence Sych, and David Jesuit

9. Political Polarization, Fiscal Stress and Financing Public Universities: A Comparative Analysis of the Ontario and Michigan Public Policy Experience

Lawrence Sych and Marcy Taylor

10. The Silence is Deafening: A Look into Financial Services Sector Policymaking in Canada

Ian Roberge

Conclusion: Managing Polarization to Make Governance Work

David K. Jesuit and Russell Alan Williams


About the Editors

David K. Jesuit is a Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Central Michigan University (CMU), USA.

Russell Alan Williams is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Memorial University, Canada.

About the Series

Routledge Critical Studies in Public Management

The study and practice of public management has undergone profound changes across the world. Over the last quarter century, we have seen

  • the increasing criticism of public administration as the over-arching framework for the provision of public services
  • the rise (and critical appraisal) of the ‘New Public Management’ as an emergent paradigm for the provision of public services
  • the transformation of the ‘public sector’ into the cross-sectoral provision of public services
  • the growth of the governance of inter-organizational relationships as an essential element in the provision of public services

In reality these trends have not so much replaced each other as elided or co-existed together – the public policy process has not gone away as a legitimate topic of study, intra-organizational management continues to be essential to the efficient provision of public services, whist the governance of inter-organizational and inter-sectoral relationships is now essential to the effective provision of these services.

This series is dedicated to presenting and critiquing this important body of theory and empirical study. It will publish books that both explore and evaluate the emergent and developing nature of public administration, management and governance (in theory and practice) and examine the relationship with and contribution to the over-arching disciplines of management and organizational sociology. Books in the series will be of interest to academics and researchers in this field, students undertaking advanced studies, and reflective policy makers and practitioners.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Strategic Planning
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / Comparative
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Affairs & Administration
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy