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.