Comparative Public Policy

All assignments are compulsory. Failure to complete one of the assessment tasks will result in the student being awarded a “Fail” for the unit.

Please also note the attendance requirements for both internal and external students, as explained on page 3 of this Unit Outline.

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IMPORTANT: The 3 assessment tasks articulate with one other. Please consider the requirements of Assignments 2 and 3 when you are working through the requirements for Assignment 1.You will need to choose your research area (Assignment 1) wisely to ensure enough comparative material exists in other jurisdictions to enable you to complete Assignments 2 and 3.
If you are in any doubt about choosing your research area, please consult the Unit Convenor.
Assessment tasks

Assessment Summary

Task Task Name % Due Date
1 Assignment 1 – Critical analysis of one policy area in a selected Australian jurisdiction (see details below); identification of sub-area for further research; identification of poorly performing program in an Australian jurisdiction – 1000 words 25 Friday 25 March
2 Assignment 2 – Critical comparative analysis of a ‘similar’ program applied in two or more other jurisdictions; identification of and justification for selection of the program which possesses the greatest potential for borrowing – 1750 words 35 Friday 13 May
3 Assignment 3 – Critical evaluation of whether or not the program identified in Assignment 2 can/should be introduced into the Australian jurisdiction selected in Assignment 1 – 2000 words
Total: 100

Task 1 – Assignment 1 Weight Due date Linked unit outcomes Linked graduate capabilities
Critical analysis of one policy area
Word Limit: 1000 words 25% Friday March 25 1,2,3,4,5,6 1,2,3,4,5,6
Assignment 1

25% Background Review Friday 25 March 2016

Assignment 1 requires students to familiarise themselves with a contested Australian policy area and with basic resources that identify specific programs within that area. The assignment constitutes an introduction to the policy borrowing exercise in which you will be engaged over the semester.

The first assignment consists of: an introductory analysis of one of a number of Australian policy areas, as that policy area appears in a specific Australian jurisdiction (i.e. a particular state or the Commonwealth); an exploration of a particular dimension of that broad policy area; and identification of a particular program that addresses that dimension and that is currently operating less than adequately in your chosen Australian jurisdiction.

In Assignment 1, you are required to canvass the broad policy area and to identify a smaller dimension which you will intensively research in the next two assignments.

Among the elements you should explore (but not necessarily write about within the
1 000 word limit) in Assignment 1 are:

Why is the broad policy area considered a problem?

What is the specific jurisdiction you have selected and how (if at all) does its identity relate to the policy area?

Is the broad policy area regarded as political in nature? Or economic? Or moral? Or social? Or cultural? Do different groups define the problem differently?

Which smaller dimension of the larger policy area do you intend to research in the next two assignments?

What major policy actors are involved in the smaller aspect of the policy?

What attempts have been made within Australia broadly – and within your selected jurisdiction – to address the smaller policy aspect in the past? Have there been or are there now different approaches to the problem in different Australian jurisdictions?

Identify a particular program addressing the smaller policy aspect that has been implemented in your chosen jurisdiction but about which questions have been raised as to its adequacy. What deficiencies have been noted; by whom?

Note: this list is a minimum, not a maximum. The object of this assignment is to:

(a) establish a knowledge base upon which to seek a ‘better’ program from other jurisdictions which you will analyse in Assignment 2; and

(b) establish a broad policy framework to enable you to consider whether the potentially ‘borrowable’ program (which you will identify in Assignment 2) might be successfully applied in your chosen Australian jurisdiction (Assignment 3).

Your initial sources for Assignment 1 are likely to be media reports, think tank or department reports, and government/ministerial statements, but these comprise only one aspect of the way the problem has been characterised. Academic analyses and commentary should also be canvassed.

Assignment 1 should conclude with (a) a clear statement of the specific dimension of the broader policy area that you plan to research in the next two assignments; (b) identification of the specific Australian jurisdiction into which you will attempt to transfer your ‘borrowed’ program; and (c) identification of the existing program which needs to be replaced and a statement of its perceived inadequacies.
Note that in previous years, this unit required a focus on one of a number of specified policy areas. In 2014, for example, three areas were nominated:

• Aboriginal health
• Literacy education
• Youth unemployment

In 2016, the choice of policy area has been extended so that no specific policy area is nominated; choice is thus widened though a good deal of material on the three areas above will be used in the course for illustrative purposes.

Looking ahead: Note that Assignment 2 requires you to identify and analyse ‘similar’ programs that (a) have been implemented in at least two other jurisdictions; and(b) that address your selected policy dimension.

In Assignment 2 you are also required to make a case for borrowing one of those programs.

Assignment 3 requires you to carefully assess the practical pros and cons of transferring the identified “borrowable” program to the relevant Australian jurisdiction.

Choose your area of analysis wisely – it pays to look ahead a little to make sure your area is one that has been addressed in other jurisdictions.
Task 2 – Assignment 2 Weight Due date Linked unit outcomes Linked graduate capabilities
Critical comparative analysis of a ‘similar’ program as applied in at least two jurisdictions…
Word Limit: 1750 words 35% Friday 13 May 1,2,3,4,5,6 1,2,3,4,5,6
Assignment 2

35% Critical Evaluation Friday 6 May 2015

Summary: Critical comparative analysis of a ‘similar’ program as applied in at least twoother jurisdictions that address your chosen policy dimension and identification of and justification for the selection of the program from another jurisdiction that possesses the greatest potential for borrowing.

Assignment 2 requires you to identify and analyse programs that have been implemented in at least two other jurisdictions that address the problem addressed by your selected Australian program and to make a case for borrowing one of those programs.
You and your fellow students are required to share – via the POL 802 iLearn website – basic information about program initiatives that you have discovered in operation in other countries concerning your chosen policy area. Such information may be as basic as providing web addresses or citing relevant journal articles. While your investigation into the possibility of successful program transfer will involve a co-operative sharing of information, assignments will be individually written and assessed.

Your sharing of information is to be complete: no student will gain additional credit for information they do not share. What will be assessed is what each student does with the information.

Your critical analysis in Assignment 2 should include – at a minimum:

1. A summary restatement of your conclusions from Assignment 1: e.g. a statement of the particular dimension of the policy area that is the subject of your research, the Australian jurisdiction into which ‘borrowed’ policy might be introduced and the program which is a candidate for replacement.

2. A brief summary of the most useful program you have found in at least two other jurisdictions that have the potential to be ‘borrowed’ and a clear identification of which level or levels of government in the other jurisdictions are responsible for implementing these programs.

4. A critical analysis of the particular program that shows the most promise of being transferable to your Australian jurisdiction – including a discussion of the factors that have guided your decision.

5. An evaluation of the way the program has been implemented and operates in the ‘exporting’ jurisdiction indicating, at a minimum:

– the politics of its introduction

– how long it has been operating

– relevant characteristics of the jurisdiction in which it is operating

– evaluations of its operation

– debates about its operation.

Your emphasis in this assignment should be on points 4 and 5.

Task 3 – Assignment 3 Weight Due date Linked unit outcomes Linked graduate capabilities
Critical evaluation of whether or not the program identified in Assignment 2 can/should be introduced into the Australian jurisdiction identified in Assignment 1.
Word Limit: 2000 words 40% 1,2,3,4,5,6 1,2,3,4,5,6
Assignment 3

40% Critical Evaluation Friday, 3 June

Provide a critical analysis of the prospects for success or failure regarding the transfer of your preferred program to your Australian jurisdiction.

Now that you have (a) identified a specific policy/program in an Australian jurisdiction (Assignment 1) and (b) chosen a particular program from a different jurisdiction because it seems to be a promising candidate for borrowing (Assignment 2), the final assignment considers the feasibility of actually borrowing the program and having it ‘work’.

This assignment requires you to critically examine the ‘receiving’ political arena in Australia. You should address, at a minimum:

1. A statement of the benefits which will accrue if the borrowed program can be transferred successfully into the relevant Australian jurisdiction.

2. A critical analysis of the major differences between the ‘exporting’ jurisdiction – i.e. the jurisdiction from which the program will be borrowed – and the Australian jurisdiction into which the program will be transferred.

3. A critical analysis of the Australian political and institutional context in which the ‘borrowed’ program will be applied. Consideration of the feasibility of overcoming possible difficulties which might arise from these differences should be included.

4. A critical analysis of the ways in which the program needs to be ‘tied into’ or ‘hooked up’ to the existing institutional arrangements in the Australian jurisdiction.

5. A critical analysis of the politics of transferring the program: which individuals and groups might support it and which might oppose it and why? what are costs, and upon whom are these likely to fall?

6. Your recommendation whether the relevant jurisdiction should proceed with the program transfer and reasons for your recommendation.

Note: You should consider the option of recommending that there should not be a transfer as well as the option of recommending that there should be a transfer.

A volume of Unit Readingsis available from the Coop Bookshop on campus. Please note that readings will be provided on there is any delay with the availability of this volume.


A good introductory general text on public policy is:

Alan Fenna: Australian Public Policy. Pearson Longman. 2004

Two recent books on policy transfer by Australian authors are:

Peter Carroll and Richard Common: (2013) Policy Transfer and Learning in Public Policy and Management. Routledge.

Mark Evans (ed): (2010) New Directions in the Study of Policy Transfer. Routledge.

The following is a list of books which you may find useful in this unit. Most of them are available at the Macquarie University Library. The list is not exhaustive.
Rose, Richard: (2005) Learning from Comparative Public Policy: A Practical Guide. Routledge
Peters, B. Guy: (2010) Politics of Bureaucracy. Routledge
Pierre, Jon and Ingraham, Patricia (eds.): (2010) Comparative Administrative Change and Reform. McGill-Queen’s University Press
König, Mark, Tsebelis, George and Debus, Mark (eds.) (2010)Reform Processes and Policy Change: Veto Players and Decision-making in Modern Democracies. Springer.(Electronic version available from Macquarie University)
Kopotstein, Jeffrey and Lichbach, Mark (eds.): (2009) Comparative Politics: Interests, Identities and Institutions in a Changing Global Order (3rd ed.). Cambridge University Press
Bulmer, S., Dolowitz, D., Humphreys, P. and Padgett, S.: (2007) Policy Transfer in the European Union: Regulating the Utilities. London: Routledge
Evans, Mark (ed.): (2004) Policy Transfer in Global Perspective.Ashgate
Jones, T. and Newburn, T.: (2006) Policy Transfer and Criminal Justice. Open University Press
Ladi, S.: (2005) Globalisation, Policy Transfer and Policy Research Institutes. Edward Elgar

Steiner-Khamsi, Gita and Waldow, Florian (eds): (2011) World Yearbook of Education 2012. Routledge (N.B. Entire volume addresses policy borrowing in the education field.)

Jones, Trevor and Newburn, Tim: (2007) Policy Transfer and Criminal Justice: Exploring US Influence over British Crime Control Policy. Open University Press

Falkner, Gerda (ed.): (2011) The EU’s Decision Traps: Comparing Policies. Oxford University Press(N.B. Full text available from Oxford Scholarship Online Political Science

Bouckaert, G. and Van De Donk, W. (eds):(2010)The European Group for Public Administration (1975–2010): Perspectives for theFuture. EditionsBruylant

Ongaro, E.:(2009) Public Management Reform andModernization: Trajectories of Administrative Change in Italy, France, Greece, Portugaland Spain. Edward Elgar. 2009

Heidenheimer, Arnold, Heclo, Hugh and Adams, Carolyn:(1990) Comparative Public Policy. St. Martin’s Press

de Jong, Marin, Lalenis, Konstantinos and Mamadouh, Virginia:(2002) The Theory and Practice of Institutional Transplantation: Experiences with the Transfer of Policy Institutions. Springer

Common, Richard:(2001) Public Management and Policy Transfer in Southeast Asia.Ashgate

Dolowitz, D.P., Hulme, R., Nellis, M. and O’Neal, F. (2000) Policy Transfer and British PublicPolicy: Learning from the USA? Milton Keynes: Open University Press

Castles, Francis G.: (1998) Comparative Public Policy: Patterns of Post-war Transformation. Edward Elgar
Brown, M. Leann, Kenney, Michael and Zarkin, Michael (eds.): (2006) Organizational Learning in the Global Context. Ashgate
Kane, John, Patapan, Haig and ‘t Hart, Paul (eds.): (2009) Dispersed Democratic Leadership: Origins, Dynamics and Implications.Oxford University Press, 2009 (N.B. Full text available from Oxford Scholarship Online Political Science
Mohr, Ernst : (1999) The Transfer of Economic Knowledge. Edward Elgar
Bulmer, Simon (2007) Policy Transfer in European Union Governance: Regulating the Utilities. Psychology Press
Dolowitz, David P.: (2000) Policy Transfer and British Social Policy: Learning from the USA? Open University Press
Castles, Francis G. (ed.): (1989) The Comparative History of Public Policy. Oxford University Press

Lloyd-Reason, Lester and Sear, Leigh (eds.): (2007) Trading Places–SMEs in the Global Economy: A Critical Research Handbook. Edward Elgar

Cottier, Thomas, Nartova, Olga and Bigdeli, Sadeq Z. (eds.):(2009)International Trade Regulation and the Mitigation of Climate Change. Cambridge University Press

Blank, Robert H. and Burau, Viola (eds.): (2007) Comparative Health Policy. Palgrave Macmillan

Levi-Faur, David (ed.): (2011) Handbook on the Politics of Regulation Edward Elgar. 2011

McGann, James G with Erik C Johnson: (2005)Comparative Think Tanks, Politics and Public Policy. Edward Elgar

Althaus, Catherine,Bridgman, Peter and Davis, Glyn: (2007) The Australian Policy Handbook. 4thed, Allen and Unwin

Bacchi, Carol Lee: (2009)Analysing Policy: What’s the Problem Represented to be? Pearson Education

Colebatch, H.K.: (2006)Beyond the Policy Cycle – The Policy Process in Australia. Allen and Unwin. 2006

Considine, Mark: (2005)Making Public Policy – Institutions, Actors, Strategies. Polity Press

McCourt, Willy and Minogue, Martin: (2001) The Internationalization of Public Management: Reinventing the Third World State. Edward Elgar

Galligan, Brian, Roberts, Winsome and Trifiletti, Gabriella: (2001) Australians and Globalisation – The Experience of Two Centuries. Cambridge University Press. 2001

Hay, Colin, Lister, Michael and Marsh, David (eds): (2006) The State – Theories and Issues. Palgrave Macmillan

Hill, Michael and Hupe, Peter: (2002)Implementing Public Policy: Governance in Theory and Practice. Sage Publications

Jones, Bryan and Baumgartner, Frank: (2005)The Politics of Attention – How Government Prioritizes Problems. University of Chicago Press

Michael, Ewen J: (2006) Public Policy – The Competitive Framework. Oxford University Press

Moran, Michael, Rein, Martin and Goodin, Robert E (eds): (2006) The Oxford Handbook of Public Policy. Oxford University Press

Peters, B. Guy and Pierre, Jon (eds): (2006) Handbook of Public Policy. Sage

Saunders, Peter and Walter, James (eds): (2005)Ideas and Influence: Social Science and Public Policy in Australia. UNSW

Diane Stone: (2002)Policy Paradox – The Art of Political Decision-Making.
WW Norton

Stone, Diane and Denham, Andrew (eds): (2004) Think Tank Traditions – Policy Research and the Politics of Idea. Manchester University Press

Tiffen, Rodney and Gittins, Ross: (2009)How Australia Compares. Cambridge University Press

Wanna, John, Butcher, John and Freyens, Benoit: (2010)Policy in Action: The Challenge of Service Delivery, UNSW Press. 2010

Yeatman, Anna (ed): (1998)Activism and the Policy Process. Allen and Unwin

Zahariadis, Nikolaos: (2003)Ambiguity and Choice in Public Policy: Political Decision Making in Modern Democracies, Georgetown University Press

Zifcak, Spencer: (1994) New Managerialism – Administrative Reform in Whitehall and Canberra. Open University Press

American Political Science Review
Australian Journal of Political Science
Australian Journal of Politics and History
Australian Journal of Public Administration
Australian Journal of Social Issues
British Journal of Political Science
Governance: An International Journal of Policy and Administration
Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice
Journal of European Public Policy
Journal of Public Policy
International Journal of Public Sector Management
International Public Management Journal
Policy Sciences
Policy Studies
Political Quarterly
Political Studies
Political Studies Review
Public Administration
Public Administration Review
Public Management: An International Journal of Research and Theory
Political Quarterly
Review of Policy Research

Students should also familiarise themselves with the websites of international bodies such as: World Bank; International Monetary Fund (IMF); Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); World Trade Organization (WTO). All of these bodies have had a significant role in applying pressure in various forms to ‘encourage’ different countries to adopt different programs and policies across a range of areas.Students should also consult specialist journals, if any, relating to your chosen policy area.

The easiest way to access these journals is through the Journal Finder pathway on the Library website. In some cases older issues of the journal are available in hard copy only and more recent issues on-line only.

Access to the particular websites of the Australian Government of most use is through the Parliamentary website: Of particular use is the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library which publishes a series of Research Notes, Research Papers and Current Issues Briefs:
The main government entry site is at

Two of the most useful non-government Australian websites for public policy issues are: – Australian Policy Online – provides regularly updated summaries of and access to papers and research from Australian institutions and the social sciences. – The Australian Review of Public Affairs (formerly known as The Drawing Board: An Australian Review of Public Affairs) – an online journal of research and comment on public policy issues

Most active ‘public policy think tanks’ such as The Centre for Independent Studies and The Australia Institute have their own websites and students should explore their contents. The same applies to most pressure groups such as ACOSS, Greenpeace, and The Business Council of Australia.

A number of useful and current academic papers on policy and governance are published online by the Australian and New Zealand School of Government at the ANU E-Press:

Week 1
3 March Introduction and Overview
Week 2
10 March Policy Transfer
Week 3
17 March Comparative Public Policy – Traditional and New Comparative Politics Approaches
Week 4
24 March Comparative Public Policy – New Approaches – Conceptualising Convergence
Assignment 1 due 25 March
Week 5
31 March Comparative Public Policy – New Approaches – Diffusion
Week 6
7 April Comparative Public Policy – New Approaches – Policy Learning

Week 7
28 April Policy Transfer and Politics
Week 8
5 May International Politics and Policy Transfer
Week 9
12 May Case Studies – Public Sector Reform
Assignment 2 due 13 May
Week 10
19 May Assignment Preparation week: no classes but individual consultation as required

Week 11
26 May Case Studies

Week 12
2 June Case Studies

Week 13
9 June Conclusion – Case Studies: What Can we Learn
Assignment 3 due 10 June
Class discussion – in weekly classes for internal students and in the two on campus sessions for external students – will discuss the readings, as indicated below, and the themes raised in the lectures. The lectures are available as audio files on the iLearn site and are accompanied by Powerpoint slides.

The course can be seen as following two ‘tracks’, and two sets of Powerpoint slides are available each week, one set supporting each ‘track’.
1. The readings and the associated set of Powerpointsset out the theoretical issues involved in policy transfer; generally it is expected that students will work through the readings and these Powerpoints to draw material of relevance to the assignments, and there will be discussion in class of any questions arising as the unit proceeds.

The readings in the first half of the unit examine the growing academic literature about comparative public policy to sort out some of the confusing concepts that deal broadly with the phenomena of policy convergence, policy diffusion, policy transfer and policy learning. Are they different names for the same phenomenon or are they different names for different phenomena?

Readings in the second half of the unit consider case studies in specific policy areas such as health, education and policing to try to analyse whether they provide guidance on the question of which factors make for a successful transfer of policy and which factors forewarn of failure.
2. The lectures and the second set of Powerpoints apply theoretical perspectives to a number of case studies drawn from Australian experience of policy development and conflict over recent decades; the aim is to illustrate th

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