4th Edition

Public Policy Praxis A Case Approach for Understanding Policy and Analysis

By Randy Clemons, Mark K McBeth Copyright 2020
    346 Pages 32 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    346 Pages 32 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Public administration and policy analysis education have long emphasized tidiness, stages, and rationality, but practitioners frequently must deal with a world where objectivity is buffeted by, repressed by, and sometimes defeated by value conflict. Politics and policy are "messy" and power explains much more about the policy process than does rationality. Public Policy Praxis, now in a thoroughly revised fourth edition, uniquely equips students to better grapple with ambiguity and complexity. By emphasizing mixed methodologies, the reader is encouraged, through the use of a wide variety of policy cases, to develop a workable and practical model of applied policy analysis.

    Students are given the opportunity to try out these globally applicable analytical models and tools in varied case settings (e.g., county, city, federal, international, plus urban and rural) while facing wide-ranging topics (starving farmers and the red panda in Nepal, e-cigarettes, GMOs, the gig economy, and opioid abuse) that capture the diversity and reality of public policy analysis and the intergovernmental and complex nature of politics. The fourth edition expands upon its thorough exploration of specific tools of policy analysis, such as stakeholder mapping, content analysis, group facilitation, narrative analysis, cost-benefit analysis, futuring, and survey analysis. Along with teaching "how to," the authors discuss the limitations, the practical political problems, and the ethical problems associated with different techniques and methodologies. Many new cases have been added, along with clear instructions on how to do congressional research and a Google Trends analysis.  An expanded online Teaching Appendix is included for adopters, offering original cases, answers to problems, alternative approaches to case use, teaching exercises, student assignments, pedagogical ideas, and supplemental material directly tied to concepts covered in the text.  With an easily accessible and conversational writing style, Public Policy Praxis is an ideal textbook for undergraduate and graduate courses in public policy analysis, community planning, leadership, social welfare policy, educational policy, family policy, and special seminars.

    List of Figures

    List of Tables

    List of Boxes

    List of Cases

    Preface to the Fourth Edition


    Part I Overview

    Chapter 1 Public Policy, Power, the People, Pluralism, and You

    Mini-Case: Opioid Abuse and Waterville


    Introducing Narrative Analysis

    Value Conflict

    A Political System

    Public Policy and Linkage Mechanisms

    Power and Policymaking

    An Ideal (Direct) Democracy

    Representative Democracy

    Interest Group Democracy (Pluralism)


    Elite Democracy: The Irony of Democracy

    Effect of Power Structures on the Policy Analyst

    Stakeholder Analysis

    Mini-Case: This Isn’t a Hilton Hotel, MA’AM

    Concluding Thoughts

    Glossary Terms

    The "Gig Economy" Case: Uber (and Lyft) from Boise to Burlington

    Part II Theory & Practice: Rationality, Nonrationality, Politics, and the Policy Process

    Chapter 2 The Rational Public Policy Method

    Genesis of the Rational Model

    The Rational Public Policy Method in Theory

    A Critical Reaction

    The Rational Model in Practice

    Rationality or Something Else?

    Mini-Case: Portersville Health Clinic

    Model Evaluation

    Heading to a Conclusion

    Concluding Thoughts

    Mini-Case: Democracy or Science? Climate Change and GMOs

    Glossary Terms

    Chapter 3 The Positivist Toolbox


    In Defense of Rationality and Big Data: Evidence Based Politics

    Shaundra the Policy Analyst

    Tool #1: Sampling and Mail Surveys Tool #2: Extrapolation and Forecasting

    Tool #3: Measures of Central Tendency

    Tool #4: Discounting

    Tool #5: Cost-Benefit Analysis

    Concluding Thoughts

    Glossary Terms

    Chapter 4 Critiques of the Rational Approach

    Examples of the Power of Nonrational Explanations

    Critiques of the Rational Model

    Case Study: Vaping Politics and Policy – Up in Smoke

    Concluding Thoughts

    Glossary Terms

    Chapter 5 The Nonrational (Political) Approach

    Essence and Overview of the Policy Process

    Problem Identification/Gaining Agenda Status

    Policy Formulation, Adoption, and Funding

    Policy Implementation

    Policy Evaluation, Adjustment, Termination

    Mini-Case: The Pocatello Prison Siting Story: A Case of Politics

    Concluding Thoughts

    Glossary Terms

    Case Study: "Opioids and The Political Model of Policy Analysis"


    Part III Practice and Theory: Problem Definition, Pragmatism, Policy Analysis, Methodologies and Democracy

    Chapter 6 A Pragmatic Public Policy Analysis Method

    The Rational Public Policy Analysis Method: History and Form

    A Five-Step Method

    Summary of the Five-Step Method

    Concluding Thoughts

    Glossary Terms

    Case Study: Playing Politics: Bison, Brucellosis, Business, and Bureaucrats

    Chapter 7 Problem Definition, Mixed Methodologies, and Praxis

    Anti-Praxis: The Two Tracks of Policy Analysis

    The Ambiguous and Subjective Nature of Events in the System

    School Shootings and Problem Definition

    What Is the "Truth" and How Are Policies Generated?

    Stone and Company: The Symbolic Representation of Problem Definition

    The Social Construction of Public Problems

    Mixed-Methods Tools

    Using Language in Problem Definition: The Yellowstone Bison Controversy

    Concluding Thoughts

    Glossary Terms

    Case Study: School Shootings and Focus Group Research: Narrative Analysis and Problem Definition

    Chapter 8 Doing Democracy: A New (Six) Step Model

    Defining Democracy

    Democracy as an Ambiguous Symbol

    The Critique of Traditional Policy Analysis

    Structuring Democracy

    Communitarianism and Democracy

    Democratizing Steps I through IV and Inserting a New Fifth Step into a Six Step Model

    Doing Democracy: Postpositivist Tools

    Ethics as Democracy

    A Tie that Binds

    Mini-Case: Kathmandu: Red Pandas, Hunger, USAID, and Agriculture in Nepal

    Concluding Thoughts

    Glossary Terms

    Case Study: Big-Mart: Cheap Goods at What Price? Stakeholders and Storytellers: Playing Politics and the Policy Process

    Part IV: Conclusion – Praxis/Practice

    Chapter 9 Letting you Show Off

    Do Facts Matter?

    Mini-Case: Opioid Abuse and Waterville (Revisited)

    Concluding Thoughts





    Randy S. Clemons is Professor of Political Science and the Associate Dean of the Ridge College of Intelligence Studies & Applied Sciences at Mercyhurst University, Erie, Pennsylvania, USA.

    Mark K. McBeth is Professor in the Department of Political Science at Idaho State University, USA.

    "Analyzing policy is hard. But Clemons and McBeth—with their focus on the politics of policy through case studies—makes understanding why it is hard, easy.  Their 4th edition, per usual, exceeds expectations and continues to be my go-to policy analysis text." -- Michael D. Jones, Oregon State University, USA

    "Clemons and McBeth’s Public Policy Praxis offers a refreshing approach for students to understand the politics of public policy and yet also learn and use practical tools for policy analysis. This book offers cases and exercises for students to experience the complexity of decision-making, all-the-while putting abstract concepts of public policy into practice." -- Elizabeth Shanahan, Montana State University, USA