Open panels in RC32 Public Policy and Administration

This list is not finalized and is subject to change.

Chair: Prof. Chong-Min Park

The East Asian developmental experience is often taken to suggest that the presence of a competent and isolated bureaucracy is one of the key contributors to economic development in the region. Yet, in the wake of democratization and globalization, East Asian states increasingly face three distinct challenges for better governance. The first is to strengthen merit-based career-professional bureaucracies. The second is to establish democratic control over corrupt and unresponsive bureaucracies. The third is to make rule-based bureaucracies emulate the private sector. These challenges reflect the influence of three global forces of change respectively - modernization, democratization, and neo-liberalization. Each challenge emphasizes different aspects of good governance which not only overlap but also depend upon one another. At the same time, however, there are potential trade-offs, tensions or even contradictions between them. Hence, all these challenges may not be met simultaneously. The proposed panel focuses on East Asian states’ responses to these sometimes rivaling, not always reinforcing, challenges for good governance, and their determinants and consequences. How do East Asian states respond to the challenges? What shapes their distinctive responses? What are their consequences for the quality of governance? Although the panel addresses these and related questions in the context of East Asia, it welcomes any research in this area conducted in other parts of Asia.

Chair: Prof. Philippe Zittoun

Critical policy analysis is based on the assumption that socially valid accounts of public policy need to include the experiences and interpretations of those involved and affected. Similarly, interpretive policy analysis is often motivated by a critical perspective on the political process and its societal context. But how exactly do critical perspectives inform the design of empirical policy research and the strategies for data analysis and interpretation? This panel invites papers that reflect on the conceptual links between theory and method in critical policy analysis as well as empirical papers that demonstrate how a critical policy analysis perspective has informed methodological choice and helped to see problems of public policy in fresh and surprising ways. The panel aims to reflect on recent developments and define avenues for future research.

Chair: Dr. Anna Durnova

Chair: Mr. Geoffroy Matagne

Recent research on depoliticization identifies a 3-levels framework: governmental, societal and discursive, which opens new avenues for studying foreign policy. If governmental depoliticization can be addressed as a ‘method of statecraft’ rationally employed by decision-makers (e.g. through the use of agencies), it could also be understood as a lack of strategy, when countries refuse to address their international responsibilities. Similarly, societal depoliticization can be observed as the process by which a political issue has become subject to less public deliberation. However, it can also be linked to a lesser interest given in sectors of policy by citizens, including foreign policy issues, as they may not feel concerned. Eventually, discursive depoliticization (i.e. the fact that the discourse changes in content and becomes managerial and technocratic) could also be explained by the plurality of actors and the difficulty to reach a consensus on long-term objectives and strategies, leaving them no alternative than focusing on standards and technical norms.
This panel welcomes papers addressing the issue of depoliticization in the field of foreign policy in its different dimensions (diplomacy, development, defence, trade, etc.), its different dynamics and in its different consequences (unintended effects, instrumentalisation, subversion, etc.).
Field based research, as well as empirical and comparative perspectives are welcome.


Chair: Prof. Jean-Gabriel Contamin

Since the early 1980s, more and more works in political science from differing epistemological backgrounds have come to criticize analyses promoting an exclusively ‘utilitarian’, ‘strategic’, and ‘structural’ understanding of phenomena of domination and of political action. Works depicting the impact of ‘frames’ (Snow, Benford, Contamin) and ‘narratives’ (Polletta, Passy et Giugni, Davis, Mayer) on collective mobilizations ; works highlighting the role of ‘referentials’, ‘narratives’ and ‘“statement” in public policies (Jobert/Muller, Radaelli, Zittoun) ; analyses showing the importance of historical analogies and collective memories (Khong, Houghton, Langenbacher) as well as research displaying the role of ‘strategic narratives’, frames of non-recognition (Ringmar/Lindemann) in the explanbation of international violence, they have something in common : they all defend the idea that political activity produces ‘meaning’, which, of course, also provides for political entrepreneurs’ legitimacy. Therefore, the primary aim of this workshop is to gather works from all these sub-discipines in order to explore accordances et discordances between their approaches while taking empirically into consideration the narrative underpinnings of political action. This workshop will concentrate on two central questions: 1. Narrative logics – a constraint on behaviors and action dynamic; 2. The career of narrative logics – an opportunity for political action ?

Chair: Prof. Jeanette Hofmann

With the growing pervasiveness of digitization, Internet-related policy activities extend across many established policy domains such as security, consumer protection, and health. Novel or transformed policy issues such as net neutrality, data protection and intellectual property rights emerge together with new publics and discourses on the national and international level. The concurrence of these processes suggests the formation of a new policy domain.
We define policy domains as socially constructed arenas consisting of specific regulatory competences and networks of actors. It is these actors who, in the perceived need of coordination and regulatory responses, do the work of linking (formerly scattered) policy issues related to the Internet and building a common frame of reference as a basis for cooperation and conflict on specific policy issues.
The panel addresses the formation of a new policy domain by inviting submissions that go beyond the analysis of single Internet-related policies and focus on:
- discourses and sematic formation of an Internet policy domain including issue linkages, boundary conflicts, emergence of policy narratives or frames;
- institutionalisation including institutional logics, actors and relationships;
- international comparisons and comparisons across policy domains including policy diffusion and learning, and influence of transnational debates on national policy-making.

Chair: Dr. Claire Dunlop

Although learning in public policy is a classic topic, the state of the art has not much improved since the early foundational studies. While there are various several empirical studies their theoretical foundations are shaky. This explains why learning features in some theories of the policy process, but is not yet a theoretical lens on the policy process (e.g. current textbooks on theories of the policy process do not have specific chapters dedicated to learning). In analysis, the learning process is often left undefined with authors preferring to focus on the outputs of learning – i.e. the ‘lessons’ drawn. Neglect of the learning processes means that we rarely deal with thorny analytical issues about how different levels of the social environment contribute to belief change in policy. This panel aims to make theoretical, analytical and methodological progress with the comparative analysis of policy learning. We seek empirically-rich papers grounded in explicit theoretical arguments, and possibly multi-disciplinary approaches. Preference will be given to papers that cover one or more of the following 3 aspects of learning processes:
1. The micro-foundations of learning. When we observe learning in public policy, what are our assumptions about how individuals learn in organizations, policy networks and countries?
2. How do different governance arenas stimulate or hinder learning?
3. Normative questions – e.g. how does learning connect to power, who is empowered by learning?

Chair: Prof. Philippe Zittoun

Since recent decades, the number of meaning controversies in the policy process have become increasingly important, more conflictual and more widespread in the different arenas (scientific expertise arena, civil society, political realm, etc.). This politics of meaning concerns multiple dimensions of policy, ranging from problem definitions, the values and ideas it associated policies, the futures to which their consequences give rise, the conflicting interpretations of the various publics, and more. This panel thus focuses on the interpretive politics associated with different policy meanings to better understand how this “meaning war” conflictually impacts the policy process. It does this by taking into account the power dimensions related to definitional disputes and argumentative struggles more generally. The panel organizers thus seek proposals that contribute to the understanding of this politics of meaning, including the ways different actors employ competing argumentative strategies in particular policy arenas. Are there rules or patterns of meaning strategies that structure the way actors struggle with one another? Do such rules or patterns differ according to the arenas in which the conflicts take place? What are the consequences of meaning success or failure for policy legitimation and implementation?

Chair: Dr. Pierre-André JUVEN

Like every other private structures, universities, hospitals, States, all these entities don’t seem to be protected anymore from a possible financial crisis. Public services and public infrastructures are nowadays financially vulnerable and seem concerned by a « regime of failure », that is to say not explicit bankrupcy but a form of governance by and through the hypothesis of a possible failure, a lack of resurces and a financial crisis. Public authorities tend to prevent such a failure, but they also make it conceivable and visible in order to introduce reforms and austerity plans. Therefore the necessity of cost containment, of public expenditures reduction, and of agencies and offices restructuration can no longer be ignored by public services. The panel will gather contributions that are interested in the financial fragilization for all kind of public service or public entities: hospitals, universities, public companies, local communities and even the State. It aims to describe the process, the actors, organizations, rules and ideas, that lead to these crisis situations. This enquiry does not consider that these situations are the result of a natural logic or a careless management but rather are constructed through a contingent and conflictual process. Even if the public authorities declare to refuse and deny this possibility, the mere idea of a failure or bankrupcy has a concrete and material effect on these institutions and on the way people work or are managed.

Chair: Dr. Jonathan Craft

Policy-making relies on policy advice provided by an array of actors. This diversity is often conceptualized as the policy advisory system in a political system: as the interlocking set of actors and organizations with unique configurations in each sector and jurisdiction that provides recommendations for action to policy-makers. Political advisors - termed special advisers, ministerial advisers, partisan advisers, cabinet members or exempt staff - are included as participants in such systems. However, their functions and impacts in these systems remain underexplored. Research has to date been dominated by the study of single countries or policy domains, or a focus on particular sets of actors inside or outside of governments. For its part research on political advisors has focused on politicisation and politico-administrative relations. Whereas research on advisory systems only seldom investigates the particular advisory contributions of political advisors, research on political advisors often neglects their impact within the broader advisory system. This panel aims to bring those two strands of research closer together by focusing on the roles of political advisors in the context of the advisory system.
The panel invites theoretical and empirical papers on the advisory contributions of political advisors within policy advisory systems in different political systems (comparative papers and single case studies). The panel is open for a range of methodological perspectives.


Chair: Dr Leonardo Letelier S.

Since the beginning of the 90s, pro decentralization policies were increasingly seen as a welfare enhancing device. Among areas being examined, it was argued that more autonous subnational jurisdictions may promote economic growth and high quality local public goods. Nevertheless, some empirical evidence and significant political outbreaks over recent years call for a multi-dimensional view of decentralization. On the one hand, there is the traditional distinction between political, fiscal and administrative decentralization. On the other, specific functions of the State are likely not to be equally responsive to an all “across the board decentralization” approach. As the impact of decentralization on welfare may differ across areas of government (Letelier & Saez 2015), a pending challenge consists in the proper identification of those areas and/or dimensions for which State devolution does entail a welfare enhancing policy. Empirical and theoretical challenges are twofold. First, there is the question as to whether political, fiscal or just administrative decentralization policies are indeed effective. Second, as the welfare role of government spans from a myriad of social policies -such as education, health, general welfare and the like, to a strict public budget supervision, a challenge then remains as to which of these specific fields are more in line with the benefits of decentralization.

Chair: Mr. Hugo Bréant

The control of international mobility and of the legal departure of migrants has increased in the last decades. State and non-state actors are involved in the management of migrations. Migration control aims at filtering individuals according to normative criteria. However, we know little about the ways in which power brokers and prospective migrants shape such control on the ground. This panel proposes to investigate how migration control on the ground creates inequalities and how inequalities are challenged in the everyday.
We invite communications that focus on the analysis of ‘street-level bureaucracies’ and their daily work of law application. Who are the actors asked to manage migrations in practice? How do the organizational role, personal representations, discretionary power legally framed (Spire, 2008) and the reorganization of tasks (via the cooperation with non-state actors for instance) locally shape migration control? We invite also communications that analyze the “recipients of control” (Heyman, 1995) and their coping mechanisms. Who are those who succeed? Do they conform to the role assigned by the institution (Dubois, 2010)? How do they adapt to this « law-in-action » (Siblot, 2006)? Do their behavior disturb the standards of the institution? The panel welcomes proposals that address the interactions between state practices and would-be migrants strategies directly. We encourage proposals that build on comparative research design.


Chair: Dr. Annalisa Pelizza

Over the last decades digitization of government administrative information systems (IS) has deeply affected practices of state-making. However, scarce attention has been paid to the interplay of organizational, political, technological and cultural dimensions of such major change, in particular from a constructivist and materialist perspective.
Scholarship in ICT and government has found it hard to avoid deterministically measuring the impact of ICT on the state. On one hand, political science has focused on the erosion of national authority entailed by trans-national information networks. On the other hand, eGovernment has concentrated on the role of ICT to foster efficiency and competitiveness.
Between these two approaches, few studies have wondered how authority and accountability are redistributed along with information flows. This panel is meant to address this gap. It tries to answer these (among other) questions:
- how do the hierarchical order among agencies at different scales (i.e. (trans)national, regional, local) change along with digitization?
- how is the relationship between public and private actors transformed because of the introduction in administrative procedures of hyper-specific technical knowledge developed mainly by firms?
- which forms of expertise are legitimated as reliable knowledge, and which actors acquire authority thanks to it?
This panel addresses the 2016 Congress topic by focusing on new and invisible inequalities embedded in digital IS.

Chair: Mr. Osmany Porto de Oliveira

Policy transfer has become an important research field of comparative public policy and administration. At its base policy transfer studies focus on the movement and transformation of policies around the globe. Whether this occurs within a nation – such as when one state borrows ideas and model from another state – and across international boundaries – such as when Mexico looks to Brazil for social policies. This panel will examine the main contributions of policy transfer research in the past 20-years, consider its limits, and discuss how these barriers might be surpassed in the future.
We invite papers, both theoretical and empirical, interested in two sets of issues. The first are mechanisms, agents and translation in policy transfers. Authors should consider: what are the micro mechanisms that facilitate or constrain transfers; what has been learned about the role of actors, institutions and structures; how policies get translated during the transfers. Second, we encourage authors to think about policy transfer within the public policy process and take into account the following issues: in which ways different policy making process impact transfers; how do ideas of power fit into transfers; what is the relationship between learning and policy transfer; how can more learning be encouraged in the transfer process; how can macro level theory help our understanding of this public policy phenomenon.


·               Understanding Street-level Bureaucracies through the Prism of Relationships of Trust

Chair: Dr. Virginie Muniglia

Research on social policies have analysed the increasing role of personalised relationship between street-level bureaucrats and users (Dubois, 2014), focusing on tensions between values and practices, daily professional practices and adaptation strategies or between the way users understand the service and professionals their engagements.
The principles of fairness and individualisation have acquired greater importance, partly to battle real inequalities and to recognise users’ subjectivities. “Creating trust” in public services and between street-level bureaucrats and users is increasingly sought out (Llewellyn and al., 2013). It is at the same time searched and challenged by policies that look for greater performance (Breg, 2005). But social closeness between professionals and users has an impact on the quality of the relationship and the way service is provided (Giuliani, 2013), questionning both fairness and equality.
In this panel, we would like to take an in-depth look at relationships of trust within public services both at interpersonal (street-level bureaucrats/users) and organisational levels. What are the social and organisational conditions that allow relationships of trust? How is trust concretely managed and implemented? We are seeking empirically grounded papers that will shine a light on the role, the construction and/or the consequences of relationships of trust in street-level bureaucracies of all public sectors (social, health, education, police, etc.)

Chair: Dr. Thomas Alam

The panel analyses from a comparative perspective how the night is built as a "public problem" by local or national authorities. Is the night defined as a special time-space which requires specific interventions from public authorities? Do rules and tools of public regulation change during the “dark hours”? What are the conceptions of the social order which justify such changes? In other words, who owns the night?
The issue is also to compare how the night and its norms are constructed by its publics (i.e. groups who define themselves as night users: “night birds”, “ordinary sleepers”, homeless, night-time workers) and how public authorities categorise and organise them into a hierarchy.
a) Mobilisations (from bar and club owners to local residents...) have to be taken seriously since they partake in the problematisation of nightlife and create spokespersons for public institutions.
b) Panellists should study how public authorities (city councils, police departments, State administrations, etc.) grant legitimacy or not to specific publics through discourses, silences or consultative bodies they can set up.
c) Last but not least, one has to consider how the implementation of public policies regulating night-time activities are dividing night-users between “good” and “bad” publics since certain practices are tolerated while others are labelled as deviant and cracked down on.
Overall, these various dimensions are an opportunity to question social mix in the city after dark.



Please visit the website for complete details on the congress and its main themes as well as important deadlines and submission guidelines.

Anyone can submit a paper proposal. Participants do not need to be a member of IPSA, but, participant must hold an IPSA online account. If you do not currently hold an IPSA account, you will be asked to create one before submitting your panel or paper proposal.

Deadline for papers: 7 October 2015

Please take notice of the Instructions to Submit a Panel ( submitting your panel proposal.