Validating Methods for Comparing Public Policy. Special issue now out in Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis

How should comparative policy analysis proceed to increase the validity of cross-national findings? This is the lead question of a new Special Issue of the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, which presents contributions of the Celebratory Comparative Policy Analysis Conference organized at KU Leuven in November 2013 on the occasion of the 15th Anniversary of the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis and the 10th Anniversary of the International Comparative Policy Analysis Forum. The articles in the issue address the question of how academics practise methods of comparison while it also seeks to contribute to an understanding of the methods of comparison used by national governments and international institutions. The Special Issue combines the points of view of academics, and of persons who belong to the category of so-called “pracademics”.

The Special Issue contains many suggestions for advancing comparative policy analysis. The validity of comparative policy analysis will be enhanced by having members of the scholarly communities join approaches in addressing problem-based research puzzles, combining their methods in designs that do justice to complexity and context. Other processes of validation can take place in dialogues between scholars and practice. Scholars need sufficient access to problematize and help improve the scientific validity of institutionally produced data. At the same time, scholarly interactions with policy makers can contribute to another kind of validation, call it realworld or practical validation, that often lies beyond the scope of research or research funders. Comparative policy analysis should not fall into the trap of building overly abstract models and testing them with hyper-sophisticated methods, to the extent that actual policy makers no longer recognize what the discipline is on about...

The introduction to the Special Issue, with a concise description of all contributions, is freely accessible via this link.

Beleidsvoering tijdens lange regeringsonderhandelingen? De Belgische ervaring

Op verzoek van het Montesquieu Instituut, schreven Marleen Brans en ikzelf een bijdrage voor De Hofvijver over de ervaringen met beleidsvoering tijdens (lange) regeringsonderhandelingen. Inzichten van de 541 dagen durende formatieperiode in België in 2010-2011 kunnen immers ook belangrijke inzichten opleveren voor de huidige Nederlandse situatie van demissionair kabinet.

De bijdrage is gebaseerd op een meer omvangrijk artikel dat verscheen als Brans M., Pattyn V. & Bouckaert G. (2016). Taking care of crisis: policy continuity and change under Belgium’s longest caretaker government. Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 18(5),448-463.


Chapter on Political Party Think Tanks in Routledge Handbook of Comparative Policy Analysis.

Where do political parties' ideas originate from?, Who are the suppliers? and What do political parties’ 'idea factories' look like?.

In a chapter, co-authored with Steven Van Hecke (KU Leuven) and Gilles Pittoors (Ghent University) that has now been published in the Routledge Handbook of Comparative Policy Analysis (editors: Marleen Brans, Iris Geva-May and Michael Howlett) we present a new heuristic typology that classifies different types of political party think tanks worldwide. Considering the key role of political parties in shaping the decision-making process, we hope that this chapter can contribute to a better understanding of internal idea generation of parties.

Pattyn, V., Pittoors, G. and Van Hecke, S. (2017). "Who are the political parties’ ideas factories? On policy analysis by political party think tanks". Chapter 16. pp.245-260. In: Brans, M., Geva May I. and Howlett, M. (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Comparative Policy Analysis. Routledge.