Michael Howlett

Michael Howlett
Simon Fraser University · Department of Political Science

Ph.D. (Queen's)

About

652
Publications
366,581
Reads
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Introduction
Michael Howlett (Professor) BSocSci.(Hon)(Ott), MA(Br Col), PhD (Queen's) is Burnaby Mountain Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in the Department of Political Science at Simon Fraser University. He specializes in public policy analysis, political economy, and resource and environmental policy.
Additional affiliations
January 2013 - present
National University of Singapore
Position
  • Yong Pung How Chair
September 1989 - November 2015
Simon Fraser University
Position
  • Burnaby Mountain Professor
September 1989 - present
Simon Fraser University
Position
  • Burnaby Mountain Professor

Publications

Publications (652)
Article
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The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the UN, in 2015, established a clear global mandate for greater integrated policymaking, but there has been little consensus on how to achieve them. The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the role of policy capacity in mounting this kind of integrated policy response; however, the relationship be...
Chapter
The mechanistic approach to policy tool research tries to unpack the processes through which instruments reach (or do not reach) their expected goals by shedding light on the set of behav-ioural mechanisms and how the deployment of specific kinds of policy tools activates some compliance responses and not others in policy targets or 'policy takers'...
Chapter
Although there is increasing awareness and use of behaviourally informed approaches and tools in public policy, there is only limited systematic evidence on developments across the world and across sectors. Possessing knowledge about the spread and nature of behavioural policy, however, is a needed first step towards better engaging with the challe...
Article
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A transition to sustainable energy will require not only technological diffusion and behavioral change, but also policy innovation. While research on energy transitions has generated an extensive literature, the extent to which it has used the policy innovation perspective – entailing policy entrepreneurship or invention, policy diffusion, and poli...
Article
Most policies suffer from what we call the “inherent vices” of policy design – attributes which increase policy volatility and risks of failure. These risks of uncertainty, maliciousness and non-compliance often emerge from the human or behavioural aspects of policy processes, such as when target populations fail to comply with rules designed to ac...
Article
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Can relatively short-term political leadership affect long-term national policy styles, and if so, how? We examine these questions in order to explain the temporal dynamics in national policy styles observed in several recent studies whose findings have challenged the traditional view that policy styles lend continuity and stability to policy-makin...
Chapter
Effective policy design requires an understanding of policy instrument choices and the range of possibilities for tool deployment present in any design situation. Instrumentation, or the selection of tools in a policy design, is a key factor determining design effectiveness and policy advisors and decision-makers must be aware of what instrument op...
Article
The recent behavioral turn among economic, administrative and other scholars has resulted in a new way of thinking about policy sciences which emphasizes behavioural insights and the need for greater research into this facet of policy-making. While most early researchers had aspired to the hallmarks of social science, with theoretical modelling on...
Article
Full-text available
The concept of national policy styles differs between states in respect of whether their governments react to policy changes in an anticipatory or reactive fashion and whether they seek to achieve consensus with societal actors or impose decisions on them. To date, this conceptualization has been applied to a limited number of states and produced o...
Article
Policy studies have addressed many issues on the topic of policy change, generally following the ideas about policy composition set out by Hall and others. These typically view 'significant' policy change as related to alterations in the macro elements of policies, namely policy paradigms and governance preferences. These studies have also examined...
Article
Popular depictions of the largest single procurement project in Canadian history—the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) project—characterize it as a bureaucratic failure. What began in 2008 as a $26.2B project has expanded to at least $77.3B, and $2B has already been spent without having produced a single vessel. Unlike other major Canadian aircraft,...
Article
The relationships of influence and activity between academics and other actors (public, private, and non‐governmental) in the policy process are complex. Although older work often argued academic research at best had an indirect “environmental” or “enlightenment” effect on policy‐makers, (May et al. (2016). Journal of Public Policy, 36, 195) recent...
Article
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This paper offers an analysis of the theoretical and empirical challenges the coronavirus pandemic poses for theories of policy change. Critical events like coronavirus disease are potentially powerful destabilizers that can trigger discontinuity in policy trajectories and thus are an opportunity for accentuating path shifts. In this paper, we argu...
Article
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This article joins with others in this special issue to examine the evolution of our understanding of how the coronavirus disease (COVID)-19 pandemic impacted policy ideas and routines across a wide variety of sectors of government activity. Did policy ideas and routines transform as a result of the pandemic or were they merely a continuation of th...
Article
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Policy failures are often assumed to be unintentional and anomalous events about which well-intentioned governments can learn why they occurred and how they can be corrected. These assumptions color many of the results from contemporary studies of policy learning which remain optimistic that ongoing policy problems can be resolved through technical...
Article
The idea of ‘think tanks’ is one of the oldest in the policy sciences. Although the topic has been studied for decades, recent works dealing with advocacy groups, policy and behavioural insight labs and into the activities of think tanks themselves have led to discontent with the definitions used in the field, and especially with the way the term m...
Article
Policy mixes come in many shapes and sizes. This poses many challenges to policy design, especially when mixes extend across sectors and have multiple levels. This is the case with the Water-Forest-Energy-Climate (WFEC) nexus, a complex policy mix that involves not only significant cross-sectoral linkages and the potential complementarities and con...
Chapter
Energy Democracy is an emergent movement for bringing about technological innovation with concomitant economic, social, and political change in the energy system, one which promises a just transition to clean and affordable energy by reducing the ability of large energy corporations to set the policy agenda and control the energy policy regime. To...
Article
Policy designs must not only “work” in the sense of accomplishing their goals but must also work in their intended fashion. Most research to date has focused on the former topic and dwells on the technical aspects of how various tools and instruments could be utilized to achieve the aims and goals of policymakers. This branch of research tends to u...
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While the emergence of big data raises concerns regarding governance and public policy, it also creates opportunities for diversifying the toolkit for analysis for the policy sciences as a whole, i.e., research concerning policy analysis as well as policy studies. Further, it opens avenues for practice, which together with research requires adaptat...
Article
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Policy tools are a critical part of policy-making, providing the ‘means’ by which policy ‘ends’ are achieved. Knowledge of their different origin, nature and capabilities is vital for understanding policy formulation and decision-making, and they have been the subject of inquiry in many policy-related disciplines and sector-specific studies. Yet ma...
Article
Current work on policy design typically views policy-making as an activity on the part of well-intentioned governments desiring to serve the public interest by marshaling accurate evidence in a dispassionate, technical way in the attempt to address and resolve public problems. Even those studies which do note the political and power-based nature of...
Article
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Evolutionary governance theory (EGT) provides a basis for holistically analyzing the shifting contexts and dynamics of policymaking in settings with functional differentiation and complex subsystems. Policy assemblages, as mixes of policy tools and goals, are an appropriate unit of analysis for EGT because they embody the theory's emphasis on co-ev...
Article
Slow onset events by definition occur gradually and it might be expected that policy-makers as a result pay less attention to them than to immediate risks or ‘shock’ crises. If this is true and what can be done about it are important issues for climate change policy-making, given the gradual nature of many climate related issues. Public bureaucraci...
Article
A recent resurgence of interest in policy design has fostered renewed efforts to better understand how specific combinations of policy tools arise and shape policy outcomes. However, to date, these efforts have been stymied by under-theorization of the dif- ferent purposes to which tools are directed in policy mixes and a corresponding failure to a...
Article
Policy design undertakes to develop effective policies and hence must understand whether and how effective policies can be formulated and implemented. However, very often policy design has failed to focus on the causal chain that represents the actual driver of policy effects and thus misconstrues the potential effectiveness of a policy design. A m...
Chapter
Policy analysis is a relatively new area of social scientific inquiry, owing its origins to developments in the US in the early 1960s. Its main rationale is systematic, evidence-based, transparent, efficient, and implementable policymaking. This component of policymaking is deemed key in democratic structures allowing for accountable public policie...
Article
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The past decade has witnessed the emergence of many technologies that have the potential to fundamentally alter our economic, social, and indeed personal lives. The problems they pose are in many ways unprecedented, posing serious challenges for policymakers. How should governments respond to the challenges given that the technologies are still evo...
Article
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Although understanding initial responses to a crisis such as COVID-19 is important, existing research on the topic has not been systematically comparative. This study uses topic modeling to inductively analyze over 13,000 COVID-19 policies worldwide. This technique enables the COVID-19 policy mixes to be characterized and their cross-country variat...
Article
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Why and how the regulation of emerging technologies occurs is not clear in the literature. In this study, we adapt the multiple streams framework-often used for explaining agenda-setting and policy adoption-to examine the phenomenon. We hypothesize how technological change affects policy-making and identify conditions under which the streams can be...
Chapter
Three specifi c aspects of governance are critical in understanding the di erences between governance styles and their impact of policy-making styles: dynamics , strategy and capacity. The notion of governance dynamic s suggests that styles of governance identifi ed in earlier studies may not be stable but rather dynamic. These change over the cour...
Article
Policy professionals play an important role in political and administrative systems. They provide an important connective tissue between elected politicians and the civil service system. However, the exact configuration of such personnel among and between line and staff agencies is largely unknown. Early works looking at the emergence of profession...
Chapter
Studies examining styles have tended to focus on the national level and to contend that policy-making processes need to be studies through the lens of the manner in which the institutional make-up of a government generates the routines and standard operating procedures which constitute its decision-making structure and processes. Given the interest...
Article
Traditionally, the policy sciences exhibited a paradoxical relationship to public behavior: arguing in theory that it was rational in a utilitarian sense and could be modelled as such while at the same time recognizing its irrational nature in practice without attempting to reconcile this contradiction. A recent behavioral turn among policy scholar...
Article
Getting the incentives (and disincentives) right in order to ensure proper levels of compliance with government initiatives is a vital assumption of much of the writings on policy design. The assumption, however, overlooks or underestimates other critical factors that affect compliance. This includes policy-makers' behaviour in the social and polit...
Article
In policymaking, evidence-based or evidence-informed policymaking are thought to be essential methods for influencing policies and decisions by telling decision-makers “what works, when and why” (Head, 2008). Different types and sources of evidence exist, however, as do the means by which policy-relevant information is communicated to policy-makers...
Book
Contents: 1. Introduction Capano and Howlett PART 1 – STUDYING PUBLIC POLICY ACTORS & DYNAMICS 2. Public Policy: Definitions & Approaches Howlett and Cashore 3. Studying Policy Dynamics: Policy Cycles and Regimes Perl 4. Mapping Policy Agents: policy entrepreneurs, advocacy coalitions, epistemic communities, instrument constituencies Beland and...
Chapter
Leading Colombian academics and experienced policy practitioners cast new light on their country in this systematic overview of policy analysis for an international audience. Examining the historical development and current status of policy analysis as a field of study and in practice, it considers public policy analysis in government and the judic...
Article
Full-text available
The fight to curb the spread of COVID-19 underscores the central role that governments play in many policy areas, including public health, and the need to understand the reasons for observed differences in governance responses to the pandemic in different countries and jurisdictions. Drawing on secondary sources and media interviews with prime mini...
Article
This paper examines the intersection between changing goals, actors and institutions in designing Wisconsin's woody biopower policy mix. Using a historical institutionalist analysis over three decades (1990–2020) of Wisconsin energy and forest products policy development, changes in the capacity of the mix to encourage the production of forest biop...
Article
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Surveys have become an established means by which scholars can evaluate and assess the quality of public services provided by governments. Though surveys must be interpreted with caution, as explained here, they also have the advantage of providing useful insights about public services that cannot easily be gauged from other assessment techniques....
Article
Policy studies to date have focused almost exclusively on the “good” side of policy formulation, that is, dealing with concerns around ensuring that knowledge is marshalled towards developing the best feasible policy under the assumption of well-intentioned governments and accommodating policy targets. This work has not carefully examined nor allow...
Article
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The objective of this collection of essays is to gain insights into the different national-level state responses to COVID-19 around the world and the conditions that shaped them. The pandemic offers a natural experiment wherein the policy problem governments faced was the same but the responses they made were different, creating opportunities for c...
Article
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Public policies are the products of political conflict, constituted by mixes of diverse tools and instruments intended to achieve multiple goals that may change over time and not always be internally consistent or coherent. Recent studies dealing with policy robustness and resilience have theorized about the temporal development of mixes of policy...
Article
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Background: It is imperative that researchers studying medical tourism connect their work with policy, so that its real-world challenges can be better understood, and more effectively addressed. This article gauges the scope and evolution of policy thinking in medical tourism research through a bibliometric review of published academic literature,...
Article
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Medical tourism occupies different spaces within national policy frameworks depending on which side of the transnational paradigm countries belong to, and how they seek to leverage it towards their developmental goals. This article draws attention to this policy divide in transnational healthcare through a comparative bibliometric review of policy...
Article
Policy scholars can learn a great deal from students of clientelism with respect to the forces at work in the policy process. This is apparent, for example, with respect to scholarship in recent years which has focused attention on the idea of replacing patchworks of public policies in specific issue areas with more coordinated or ‘integrated’ poli...
Chapter
This chapter introduces the idea of ‘policy myopia’ as a pressing source of failure in policy making and explores the possibility of developing policies that learn to help mitigate its impacts. It notes that while the problem of bounded rationality and short-term uncertainty is widely acknowledged as the central existential condition for all policy...
Chapter
First published as a special issue of Policy & Politics, this updated volume explores policy failures and the valuable opportunities for learning that they offer. Policy successes and failures offer important lessons for public officials, but often they do not learn from these experiences. The studies in this volume investigate this broken link. Th...
Article
Full-text available
Policies are made and pursue their goals through policy instruments. Furthermore, policy instruments have become a relevant topic in many policy fields due to their theoretical and empirical relevance. The study of this field dates back to Lowi and others who developed many typologies and theories in classic works by authors such as Hood, Salamon,...
Book
Cambridge Core - American Studies - Policy Consultancy in Comparative Perspective - by Caspar van den Berg
Preprint
Full-text available
Multiple competing frameworks depict different aspects of the policy processes through varied theoretical and methodological lens. This chapter sets out a policy process framework consisting of three streams of actors and activities – the problem stream, the policy solution stream, and the political process stream – and identifies possible interact...
Article
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Why do international regime complexes develop? Are hard-law regimes effective in integrating regime complexes for international water resources management? Are there other alternatives? This article introduces international regime complexes and argues that these form a superior alternative to hard law and traditional global integrated regimes for m...
Chapter
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Collaborative arrangements such as co-production, co-management, consultations, contracting-out, commissioning and certification in recent years have been at the centre of efforts to re-think and improve the provision of public services. Unfortunately, lost in the discussion of the possible benefits of these alternative modes of service delivery ha...
Article
The role of medical tourism in bridging health system deficiencies, improving healthcare standards and stimulating local economies has long been recognized, but its use as a welfare and developmental strategy is being increasingly contested. It is imperative that researchers who study medical tourism connect their work with policy, so that its real...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The role of medical tourism in bridging health system deficiencies, improving healthcare standards and stimulating local economies has long been recognized , but its use as a welfare and developmental strategy is being increasingly contested. It is imperative that researchers who study medical tourism connect their work with policy, so that its rea...
Article
Although learning in networks is key to transitions, the literature has juxtaposed the different actors involved. Based on a conceptual review, we posit that four distinct collective actors engage in learning in transitions: technology constituencies, epistemic communities, instrument constituencies, and advocacy coalitions. Technology constituenci...
Article
Full-text available
There has been an increasing interest in science, technology and innovation policy studies in the topic of policy mixes. While earlier studies conceptualised policy mixes mainly in terms of combinations of instruments to support innovation, more recent literature extends the focus to how policy mixes can foster sustainability transitions. For this,...
Preprint
p> Policy instruments have become a relevant topic in many policy fields due to their theoretical and empirical relevance (overall, policies are made and pursue their goals through policy instruments). But many fundamental issues remain unknown or under-studied with respect to the topic. The current paper examines four clusters of basic issues in t...
Preprint
p> Policy instruments have become a relevant topic in many policy fields due to their theoretical and empirical relevance (overall, policies are made and pursue their goals through policy instruments). But many fundamental issues remain unknown or under-studied with respect to the topic. The current paper examines four clusters of basic issues in t...
Chapter
Full-text available
Behavioral science consists of the systematic analysis of processes underlying human behavior through experimentation and observation, drawing on knowledge, research, and methods from a variety of fields such as economics, psychology, and sociology. Because policymaking involves efforts to modify or alter the behavior of policy-takers and centers o...
Conference Paper
Despite over four decades of work on understanding and explaining policy change, research on the topic remains fragmented due to the multiplicity of competing frameworks that depict different aspects of policy processes through varied theoretical and methodological approaches. Although scholars have attempted to develop a more integrative view of t...
Article
Although policy entrepreneurship is essential for fostering policy innovations to achieve sustainable development, the literature has conflated different types of entrepreneurship and disaggregated it using inconsistent terminology. We conceptualize entrepreneurship using a six‐stream variant of the multiple streams framework (MSF)—which addresses...
Article
Full-text available
Transnational policy transfer is a well‐documented phenomenon with studies from across many disciplines. However, the literature tends to over‐theorize but under‐operationalize what is transferred and how it is transferred. A significant issue in this regard concerns ‘agency’: that is, who is supplying and who is demanding policy lessons and exampl...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years work on policy design and instrument choice has advanced towards a better understanding of the nature of policy mixes, their dimensions, and the trade-offs between choices of tools, as well as the identification of basic design criteria such as coherence, consistency and congruence among policy elements. However, most of this work h...
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具争议科学技术的公众态度形成与监管的比较研究:亚洲国家政策选择的建构 [摘要]过去对新技术领域的监管成功和其他国家和私营部门活动的研究提出,这些监管和活动都取决于许多因素,其中之一是公众舆论对相关创新的反应。大多数关于公众接受具争议科学产品的现有理论主要基于欧洲和北美的案例作研究,并且分为关注公众和消费者所涉科学知识的理论– 「缺乏模式」– 和其他强调对于新产品开发监管和私营部门的信任、或是强调个人文化规范对公众态度形成的理论。本文研究两个亚洲国家引入具争议科学技术的案例,包括新加坡的污水再生利用和中国的纳米技术监管,从而评估这些因素在个别案例的影响。根据比较研究,本文认为公众接受具争议科学产品的模型必须同时考虑到国家定义公众舆论范围的能力,以作为一个公众态度形成的关键总体参数。