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Law and Public Policy

D15 - Context, Design, and Policy Feedback: Considering New Developments and Gaps in the Literature

Date: Jun 6 | Time: 08:45am to 10:15am | Location: SWING 406

Chair/Président/Présidente : Daniel Béland (University of Saskatchewan)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Michael Howlett (Simon Fraser University - in abstentia)

Session Abstract: The policy feedback literature has provided important insights into how policies’ resource and interpretive effects shape political actors’ mobilization, the interests and administrative capacities of non-state and state actors, and the resilience or jeopardy of existing public policies and their alternatives. Gaps and shortcomings remain, however, in our understanding of policy feedback effects. For instance, moving away from governance and globalization scholarship, which overemphasized the prevalence of certain instruments, renewed interest in the policy design literature has drawn attention to the complexities of context and varied choices available to actors (Howlett, 2014). As such, accounting for specific features of policy design can provide a better understanding of resulting feedback dynamics and address an important gap in the literature (See Jordan & Matt, 2014). Similarly, developing a better and systematic specification of how feedback dynamics interact with contextual features (institutional, socio-political, and ideational) can make important analytical contributions to the field (Campbell, 2012; Béland, 2010; See Jacobs and Weaver, 2015). Also underexplored are the complex effects resulting from the increased role played by private actors in varied policy domains on feedback dynamics. Yet another gap is the role of feedback dynamics in modes of gradual institutional change. By addressing these gaps, the papers in this panel seek to contribute theoretically and empirically to the policy feedback scholarship and its role in helping us to understand gradual, as well as path-breaking, policy development.

Policy Feedback Effects and Institutional Decline: Theorizing the Decision to “Stay” or “Defect” from Public Education: Jim Farney (University of Regina), Linda White (University of Toronto)
Abstract: Drawing on the case of school choice, we seek to better specify the relationship between perceived institutional decline and the decision by actors to exit the institution or voice their dissatisfaction with it (Hirshman 1971). Across OECD countries, school choice is on the rise as parents seek and governments permit alternatives to public education; but the movement of students out of public systems has varied significantly across jurisdictions. This variation allows us to explore policy feedback effects comparatively, paying particular attention to variation across three dynamics: the presence or absence of government support for non-public schools; how pre-existing education governance mechanisms channel dissatisfaction towards or away from exit; and the impact of socioeconomic and other demographic variables on parent decision making.

Policy Feedback Effects: Thinking Trough Major Causal Routes and Exploring the Role of Private and Non-Government Actors: Reut Marciano (University of Toronto)
Abstract: Reviewing recent developments in the study of policy feedback effects, this paper identifies three major causal routes that trigger them: the effects policies have on material and symbolic power-resources of groups; interpretive effects on framing of policy alternatives; and the effects on state (and non-state organizations) capacities. Drawing on major examples from recent research, this review uses this typology in analyzing cases of positive and negative policy feedback effects, and cases in which policy feedback effects fail to be triggered altogether. Drawing on this analysis, the paper focuses on a major research gap in the study of policy feedback effects: the role private and non-government actors play in these processes. The choice, design and calibration of policy instruments triggers policy feedback effects in three ways: 1) they alter the distribution of capacity among public, private and non-for-profit policy designers and providers 2) they contribute to the development and empowerment of “instrument constituencies” (Voß and Simons, 2014), which are invested in maintaining and expanding policy designs beneficial to them 3) and they contribute to the framing of accepted policy solutions. Expanding the research on the role of private and non-government actors in feedback processes can further highlight the role of agency and sketch out the divergent ways private/public actors contribute to such effects, often underdeveloped in policy feedback literature. The paper uses examples from recent literature in applying this analysis and sketches a research agenda to expand the study of the role of private and non-government actors in policy feedback processes.

318.Marciano .pdf

Contextualizing Feedback: A Comparison of Immigration Policy in Turkey and Canada : Busra Hacioglu (University of Toronto)
Abstract: The literature in policy feedback has generally focused on the impact of social policies on politics in well-developed democratic countries. However, the contextual differences in ‘low-capacity’ states can not only shape individuals’ access to policies, but can also impact the manner in which policies are interpreted by these individuals, resulting in differing feedback dynamics (See for instance Hern, 2017). This paper focuses on feedback dynamics generated by immigration policies impacting Syrian refugees in Canada and Turkey to highlight how different policy interventions impact such processes, and to also show the importance of context in generating feedback. In the Canadian case, there have been studies regarding the effects of immigration policy on the mobilization and participation of migrant groups and how this may further impact policies (eg. Bloemraad, 2006). However, the recently-shifting immigration policy of Turkey in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis remains rather understudied (See Akcapar & Simsek, 2018). Through comparing the impact of immigration policies on these two sets of groups, the paper seeks to highlight contextual features around capacity, socio-political environment, institutional features and ideational factors that impact feedback dynamics. In order to fully complete the feedback loop, the paper seeks to determine if such policies around Syrian refuges have had a 'material' or 'interpretive' impact on these groups, and in the Turkish case, if recent shifts in immigration policy in has been subject to such feedback effects resulting from mass migration (Pierson, 1993).


Countervailing Feedback Dynamics in USA Renewable Fuels Policies: Grace Skogstad (University of Toronto)
Abstract: Using the case of renewable fuel policies in the USA, this paper contributes to theorizing regarding the interactive roles of policy design and contextual factors in self-reinforcing and self-undermining policy feedback dynamics. It documents the significance of the legislative phase on the design of the US renewable fuels policy, and, in turn, how its policy design features interacted with the agency of administrators responsible for policy implementation, the Environmental Protection Agency, to affect the material, interpretive and administrative feedback dynamics of the US Renewable Fuel Standard. The analyses help to uncover the conditions that are likely to give rise to both self-reinforcing and self-undermining feedback dynamics in energy transition technologies.