Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - DYNAMICS

Core Theory: Advanced Theories of Policy Making

by Prof. Dr. Hanna Schwander


To understand public policy making, we study the political process with its key stages problem definition, agenda setting, policy formulation, implementation, evaluation and policy reforms. An important aspect of this part is the question of agenda-setting and problem definition, in other words why certain issues appear on the political agenda while others never get the attention of policy-makers. Our second focus will be the feedback effects between society, the political process and political outcomes. We will address the role of institutions, actors and ideas in shaping policy outcomes and the fundamentals and limits of analytical approaches to public policy. We discuss the policy process based on the example of mature welfare states in Western Europe studying in particular the reform processes in the last three decades. The welfare state is confronted with a number of fundamental challenges such as demographic changes, globalization and economic changes today, but the extent and the way how welfare states adapted to the challenges varies considerably between countries. To explain why and under which circumstances reforms take place, we study theoretical explanations centred around three explanatory approaches: Institutions, actors and ideas.