Victoria ADMN556 The Public Policy Process

… one of the Specimen Courses in Policy Analysis and Process

Click for Draft Syllabus

Course description

This course examines the theory and practice of public policy, emphasizing the strategic aspects of problem identification, policy design, decision making, implementation and evaluation. It is designed to give students the opportunity to develop a thorough understanding of public policy and the dynamics of the policy process and to apply this knowledge to important policy issues. Policy development is examined within the context of a globalized political environment and addresses the involvement of key players such as the courts, media, and interest groups.

See Catalogue Entry and Class Schedule Listing.


Evert Lindquist (Spring 2020)

Atlas material relevant to this course

For an introduction to the Atlas of Public Management, see The Atlas as a Resource for MPA Students, December 2019.

The table below identifies the Topics most relevant to each unit of study. Two other Atlas pages of particular interest to this course are:

Week-by-week course outline and related Atlas topics
Unit Primary Atlas Topic Secondary Atlas Topic
1. Introduction – What is Public Policy? The Study of Policy Analysis and Process The Study of Implementation and Delivery
2. What is Policy Success? Goals, Objectives & Values The Study of Policy Analysis and Process Recognizing Values
3. Policy Research, Advice and Briefs Policy Communication Consulting and Communicating on Policy
4. Navigating the Policy Cycle – Aspiration, Heuristic or Competency Framework? The Study of Policy Analysis and Process Securing Legal Authority and Budgetary Resources
5. Defining Policy Problems & Identifying Stakeholders Problem Definition and Agenda Setting Interests and the Policy Process
6. Mapping Policy Communities – Advocacy Coalitions, Networks, Partnerships Policy Communities and Networks Implementing through Partners and Networks
7. Anticipating the Dynamics of Policy-Making – Looking Forward and Backwards Models of Decision Making Institutions and the Policy Process
8. Design – Instruments, Mixes, Co-Production Policy Instruments and Design Designing the Delivery Model
9. Implementation Strategies & Pathways Strategic Management in the Public Sector Strategizing
10. Performance Reporting, Evaluation & Deliverology Organizing and Measuring for Performance Evaluation and the Policy Cycle
11. Engaging Citizens & Other Stakeholders Consulting and Communicating on Policy Ideas and the Policy Process
12. Coming Full Circle (or ‘Policy Cycling’ Back)

Policy Brief #1 Assignment: Scoping Out the Problem and Stakeholders

In the first assignment, you will begin the research needed to explore a policy of your choice, whose analysis you will continue through the later units of this assignment. In short paragraph form and using the following questions as a guides and headings, provide the following information about your policy.

1. Who is the target audience for the policy brief? (name, position, organization)

2. What is the problem as it first emerged? Why is this important for the minister?

3. What background on the problem and policies is necessary for your minister to understand?

4. Who are the key stakeholders associated with this issues? What are their perspectives?

You will have opportunity to continue to revise your idea as we move through the policy brief template and engagement with the course material in the week forums and briefing assignments.

Policy Brief #2 Assignment: The Complete Brief

In this second part of the assignment, you will build on and elaborate the analysis of the policy issue you submitted in the first assignment. However, in preparing the second assignment, you should adjust your definition of the policy issue or problem to reflect the additional research, review of best practices, and stakeholder analysis you have undertaken, which may have led to rethinking the problem definition. In addition to the topics identified for Part 1, you should have headings which address the following:

5. What is the particular problem that the client should be addressing? Why?

6. What options or policy mixes will address the problem? (e.g. costs, timelines, capacity, etc.)

7. What is the recommended approach for the client and implementation considerations?

8. What engagement and communications strategy for the minister to consider.

9. References and relevant annexes


Reading Discussion Forums & Policy Brief Postings – 40%

Policy Brief #1 (problem definition & stakeholders – 20%

Policy Brief #2 (complete brief) – 40%

Course readings

The following textbooks are REQUIRED for this course and are available at the UVic bookstore:

  • Pal, Leslie A. (2010). Beyond Policy Analysis: Public Issue Management in Turbulent Times, Fifth Edition. London: Oxford University Press.
  • Bardach, Eugene, and Patashnik (2016). A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving, 5th Edition. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press College.

Other readings can be accessed via the Internet and the UVic Online Library (ARES) at (see unit readings)

There is a lot of reading for this course (see pp. 4-15, this outline), but as noted on p. 17, you need to take a ‘smart’ and ‘matter-of-fact’ approach to reviewing them. The course is designed so that you can grapple with ideas and approaches in your weekly reading forums and apply them to your policy briefs. Don’t let the reading lists for each unit dominate you; learn to survey and skim them, and dig deeper when necessary. You are not getting tested on the concepts, but rather, how you engage & apply them.

Unit topics and readings

Unit 1 – Introduction: What is Public Policy

This unit introduces the approach, assignments, and expectations for the course. It introduces you to the CourseSpaces web site for ADMN 556 and you will meet students in the study group you will be exchanging ideas with over the course of the semester.


Pal, Beyond Policy Analysis (course text). Chapter 1 sections on ‘What is Public Policy?’, What is Policy Analysis?’ and ‘The Policy Movement’, pp.1-32.

Mintrom & Williams, Chapter 1, “Public Policy Debate and the Rise of Policy Analysis” in Routledge Handbook of Public Policy, UVic Online Library (ARES).

Howlett & Giest, Chapter 2, “The Policy Making Process” in Routledge Handbook of Public Policy, UVic Online Library (ARES).

Marando, D. and Craft, J. (2017) “Digital era policy advising: Clouding ministerial perspectives”, Canadian Public Administration 60:4, pp. 498-516.

Unit 2 – What is Policy Success? Goals, Objectives & Values

This unit addresses a fundamental question: what is policy success? Read the study notes carefully, as well as the three readings. You will need to refer back to these ideas throughout the course.


Hathaway, A. & Tousaw, K. (2008). Harm reduction headway and continuing resistance: Insights from safe injection in the city of Vancouver. International Journal of Drug Policy, 19(1), 11-16. E-reserve or view here (must be logged into UVic to retrieve)

McConnell, A. (2010). Policy Success, Policy Failure and Grey Areas In-Between. Journal of Public Policy, 30(20), 345-362. E-reserve or view here (must be logged into UVic to retrieve)

Lindquist, E.A., & Wanna, J. “Delivering policy reform: making it happen, making it stick”, Ch. 1 in E. Lindquist, S. Vincent, and J. Wanna (eds.), Delivering Policy Reform: Anchoring Significant Reforms in Turbulent Times (Canberra: ANU E-Press and ANZSOG, 2011), 1-12.

Leutjens, J., Mintrom, M., and ‘t Hart, P. (2019). Successful Public Policy: Lessons from Australia and New Zealand. ANZSOG-ANU Press. Accessible here.

Unit 3 – Policy Research, Advice and Briefs

This unit explores the difference between a policy brief and more substantial cabinet submissions for decisions by governments. In this connection, it reviews in a finer-grained way the kind of writing for communicating information and insights to decision-makers, and approaches to information gathering.


Privy Council Office, Government of Canada. (2014). Memoranda to Cabinet (five documents to review). Start with “The Drafter’s Guide”. Retrieved on 1 Sept 2015 from:

Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Good Policy Writing.

Doyle, S. University of Victoria. (2013). How to Write a Briefing Note. Retrieved 2 Sept. 2015 from:

Bardach and Patashnik, A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis (course text):

Part I: Review the first seven steps, pp.1-72

Part II: Assembling Evidence, pp.83-111.

Part IV: Smart (Best) Practices, Research, pp.125-139.

Unit 4 – Navigating the Policy Cycle: Aspiration, Heuristic or Competency Framework?

This unit introduces you to the concept of the ‘policy cycle’ which provides a way to understand not only the elements of policy analysis but also how the policy process works. That said, the policy-cycle concept is contested because it can be seen as a normative view of how policy analysis and policy processes should work when the reality of policy-making may be very different.


Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Policy Cycle. Retrieved on 2 Sept. 2015 from:

Savard, J.-F. with the collaboration of R. Banville (2012). “Policy Cycles,” in L. Côté and J.-F. Savard (eds.), Encyclopedic Dictionary of Public Administration, [online],

Everett, S. (2003). The Policy Cycle: Democratic Process or Rational Paradigm Revisited? The Australian Journal of Public Administration, 62(2), 65-70.

Bridgman, P., & Davis, G. (2003). What Use is a Policy Cycle? Plenty, if the Aim is Clear. The Australian Journal of Public Administration, 62(3), 98-102.

Howard, C. (2005). The Policy Cycle: a Model of Post-Machiavellian Policy Making? Australian J. of Public Administration, 64:3, 3-13. E-reserve or view here (must be logged into UVic to retrieve)

Mayer, I.S., Bots, P.W.G., and van Daalen, C.E. (2004).‘Perspectives on policy analysis: A framework for understanding and design’, International J. of Technology, Policy and Management 4(2):169–91.

Head, B.W. (2016). “’Evidence-Informed’ Policy Making?” Public Admin. Review 76, pp. 475-484.

Unit 5 – Defining Policy Problems & Identifying Stakeholders

This unit explores how, as issues move onto the political agenda, they are often already defined in certain ways. Not only does this narrow the search for solutions and the policy instruments which could address the problem, it may represent a skewed or limited view of a much more complex problem.


Pal, Beyond Policy Analysis, Ch. 3 ‘Problem Definition in Policy Analysis’.

Bardach, E. (2016). A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis, ‘Step 1: Define the Problem’, 1-11.

Rochefort, D. (1993). Problem Definition, Agenda Access, and Policy Choice. Policy Studies Journal, 21(1), 56-71. E-reserve or view here (must be logged into UVic to retrieve)

Deschamps, R., and McNutt, K. (2016). Cyberbullying: What’s the problem? CPA 59:1, 45-71.

John Alford & Brian W. Head (2017) Wicked and less wicked problems: a typology and a contingency framework. Policy and Society 36:3, 397-413.

Unit 6 – Mapping Policy Communities: Advocacy Coalitions, Networks, Partnerships

This unit introduces you to the concept of ‘policy communities’ and tools for analyzing the range of actors inside and outside government which are relevant to developing and implementing public policy.



Pal, Beyond Policy Analysis, Ch. 6 on “Policy Communities and Networks”, pp.227-258.

Lindquist, E.A. (1992). “Public Managers and Policy Communities: Learning to Meet New Challenges,” Canadian Public Administration 35:2, 127-159.

Doberstein, C. (2013). Metagovernance of urban governance networks in Canada: In pursuit of legitimacy and accountability. Canadian Public Administration 56:4, 584–609.

Weible, C.M., and Ingold, K. (2018). Why advocacy coalitions matter and practical insights about them. Policy & Politics 46:2, pp. 325-43.

Unit 7 – Anticipating the Dynamics of Policy-Making: Looking Forward and Backwards

This unit introduces you to several well-known models of policy-making and decision-making. They can illuminate how we think about the process of decision-making but also the character of decisions about to be made and what kinds of information are most likely to be sought out.


Lindblom, C. (1959). The Science of “Muddling Through.” Public Admin. Review, 19(2), 79-88.

Lindquist, E. A. (1988) “What Do Decision Models Tell Us About Information Use?” Knowledge in Society 1:2, 86-111.

Pal, L., Beyond Policy Analysis, Ch. 6 on ‘Policymaking Under Pressure’ 311-43.

Hardaker, J., Fleming, E. & Lien, G. (2009). How Should Governments Make Risky Policy Decisions? Australian J. of Public Administration, 68(3), 256–271.

Schmidt, J.M (2015),”Policy, planning, intelligence and foresight in government organizations”, Foresight, 17:5, 489 – 511. Permanent link:

Marando, D., and Craft, J. (2017). Digital era policy advising: Clouding ministerial perspectives? Canadian Public Administration 60:4, pp. 498-516.

Unit 8 – Design: Instruments, Mixes, Co-Production

This reviews the range of policy instruments available to policy-makers, which can be used in different combinations as ‘policy mixes’. It provides tools for thinking about how well policy mixes work and whether reform discussions are ‘patches’ on existing mixes or more fundamental different designs.


Pal, Beyond Policy Analysis, Ch. 4 on “Policy Instruments and Design”, 129-175.

Bardach/Patashnik, Practical Guide,Appendix B on “Things Governments Do”, pp. 130-163.

Pal, L. (2000). There ought to be a law! Instrument choice: An overview of the issues. (Strategic Issues Series rp02-10e). Government of Canada.

Howlett, M, Rayner, J, 2007, Design principles for policy mixes: Cohesion and coherence in ‘new governance arrangements’, Policy and Society 26, 4, 1–18

Howlett, M., & Rayner, J. (2013). Patching vs Packaging in Policy Formulation: Assessing Policy Portfolio Design. Politics and Governance, 1(2), 170-182.

Clarke, A. and Craft, J., ‘The Vestiges and Vanguards of Policy Design in a Digital Context’, Canadian Public Administration 60:4 (Dec 2017), pp. 476-497.

Unit 9 – Implementation Strategies & Pathways

This unit considers what happens after policies are announced and the ‘designs’ set in motion. The policy literature has long understood that policies often to not realize their ambitions, becoming evident as implementation proceeds. Several theories seek to explain why this happens and can also influence future designs of policy.


Pal, Beyond Policy Analysis, Ch. 5, ‘Implementation Theory’, pp.185-195.

deLeon, P. & deLeon, L. (2002). Whatever happened to policy implementation? An alternative approach. J. of Public Admin. Research and Theory 12:4, 467-492

Lindquist, Evert A., and Wanna, John, “Is Implementation Only About Policy Execution? Advice for Public Sector Leaders from the Literature”, Ch. 8 in New Accountabilities, New Challenges, eds. John Wanna, Evert Lindquist, and Penelope Marshall. Canberra: ANU E-Press, 2015, 209-42.

Lindquist, E.A., and Wanna, J. (2011). Delivering policy reform: making it happen, making it stick. Ch. 1 in Lindquist, Vincent, Wanna (eds.), Delivering Policy Reform (see above).

Unit 10 – Performance Reporting, Evaluation & Deliverology

This unit considers different ways in which governments seek to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of policies and programs, and whether there are tensions among them. A policy intervention should be accompanied by some sort of monitoring regime.


Pal, Beyond Policy Analysis, Ch. 7 on ‘Evaluation’, pp.271-301.

Mark, M., & Henry, G. (2006). Methods for Policy-Making and Knowledge Development Evaluations. In I. Shaw, J. Greene, & M. Mark (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Evaluation.(pp. 318-340). London, England: Sage. doi:

W.K. Kellogg Foundation 2004. Logic Model Development Guide, Chapters 1 and 2.

Lachapelle, G. Policy Evaluation. (2011). In B. Adie & D. Berg-Schlosser & L. Morlino (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of Political Science (99. 1908-1918). London, England: SAGE Publications Ltd. doi:

Mayne, J. (2001). Addressing attribution through contribution analysis: Using performance measures sensibly. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation. 16(1), 1-24.

Barber, M., Hihn, P., and Moffit, A. (2011). Deliverology: From Idea to implementation. McKinsey & Company, 32-39.Accessed at as web page or as PDF document.

 National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health. (2013). Indigenous Approaches to Program Evaluation. Prince George: University of Northern British Columbia. PDF accessible here.

Lahey, R., & Nielsen, S. B. (2013). Rethinking the relationship among monitoring, evaluation, and results-based management: Observations from Canada. In S. B. Nielsen & D. E. K. Hunter (Eds.), Performance management and evaluation. New Directions for Evaluation, 137, 45–56.

Units 11 – Engaging Citizens & Other Stakeholders

This unit considers how governments can engage citizens and others with interest in policies and outcomes. Often engagement occurs early on to deal with issues, problem definition, options and design, but can also take place at other phases, including implementation and evaluation.


Pal, Beyond Policy Analysis, ‘Consulting, Engaging, and Partnering’, pp.247-252.

Bardach, E. (2012). A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis. 5th edition. ‘Appendix D: Strategic Advice on the Dynamics of Gathering Political Support’, pp.173-179.

Peters, J., and Abud, M. (2009). E-Consultation: Enabling Democracy between Elections (comments from K. McNutt & C. McKay. IRPP Choices 15:1.

Lindquist, E.A. (2005). “Organizing for mega-consultation: HRDC and the Social Security Reform. Canadian Public Administration 48:3, pp.348-85.

Longo, J. (2017). “The evolution of citizen and stakeholder Engagement in Canada: From Spicer to #Hashtags”, Canadian Public Administration 60:4, pp. 517-537.

Dutil, P. 2015. Crowdsourcing as a new instrument in the government’s arsenal: Explorations and considerations. Canadian Public Administration 58:3, pp.363–383.

Units 12 – Coming Full Circle (or ‘Policy Cycling’ Back)

During this unit you will be completing your policy briefs and the forum will be dedicated to sharing with your colleagues and instructor your reflections on key insights you developed during the course about policy-making in the digital era.


Draft Syllabus, by permission of the instructor.

Syllabus link on Atlas

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified 9 December 2019.