There has been some very fruitful discussion about policy practice, and in particular about policy activity as work, at a number of venues over the last couple of year, including a workshop in Utrecht in 2007, a conference in Dubrovnik in 2008, the IPSA World Congress in Santiago in 2009, and the Interpretive Policy Analysis conference in Grenoble in June this year.

The discussion at Utrecht gave rise to a book, Working for Policy, edited by Colebatch, Hoppe and Noordegraaf, which has just been published by Amsterdam University Press. It brings together theoretical work, empirical research, and experiential accounts by policy practitioners; see for more details.

In 2011 there will be a number of venues to continue this discussion, but since they are all being sponsored by different organisations and will have different characteristics, I thought it worth telling everyone about all of them, so that you can all decide which (if any) of them would be a good place to discuss your research and to raise questions which should be pursued.

First up is the annual conference of NISPAcee, the Network of Schools and Institutes of Public Administration in Central and Eastern Europe, which will be held in Varna, Bulgaria on 19-22 May. Here, the underlying question might be seen as ‘what do we know about the management of public business, and how do we teach it ?’.

There will be a ‘Working group on public policy development issues’ which will be specifically addressed to the practices through which policy is developed, and what this tells us about the learning needs of different participants (and would-be participants) in the policy process. Proposals for papers for this working group should be submitted by 15 November. See, the conference web site; more information can be obtained from Les Pal (

There has been a particular interest in Croatia in policy as a vehicle for interrogating and participating in governing, and there will be a further conference in Dubrovnik in June (probably 10-12: to be confirmed) on the topic ‘Developing policy in different cultural contexts: learning from study, learning from experience’. This will be hosted by the IPSA Research Committee on Policy and Public Administration in conjunction with the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Zagreb, the Croatian Political Science Association, and the Croatian Institute of Public Administration. It will have four elements:

1) analytical conceptual questions

2) research on policy practice, especially in South-East Europe

3) reforming public administration in South-East Europe

4)a specific focus on policy practice relating to higher education

Those interested in presenting at this conference should contact Zdravko Petak ( or Hal Colebatch (

The third opportunity is the European Consortium for Political Research meeting in Reykjavik on 25-27 August, at which a section is being organized on ‘The Argumentative Turn Revisited: Policy Discourse and Public Deliberation’. In this section, a panel on ‘The interpretive turn and the work of policy’ has been proposed (to be confirmed), which will examine the contribution of Fischer and Forester’s The Argumentative Turn in Policy Analysis and Planning to more recent empirical and conceptual research on policy practice, and in particular, explore questions about

- problematisation and participation

- stabilization of practice, norm-setting, identity and accountability

- linkage and the negotiation of meaning across organizations

- the mobilization of public authority in governing public concerns

See or contact Rob Hoppe at