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Resolving Messy Policy Problems: Handling Conflict in Environmental, Transport, Health and Ageing Policy

By: Steven Ney

240 pages, figures, tables, index


Hardback | Mar 2009 | #175503 | ISBN-13: 9781844075669
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £60.00 $79/€68 approx

About this book

Our lives increasingly take place in more complex and interconnected networks. Accordingly, the policy problems that governments are called upon to deal with have become less clear-cut, more 'messy'. What makes messy policy problems particularly uncomfortable is that science and scientific knowledge have themselves become sources of uncertainty and ambiguity. For policy-makers, this raises a number of tough questions: given scientific uncertainty, how are messy issues to be tackled? What should be done about the intractable and persistent policy conflicts that accompany messy issues? How can policy-makers structure policy processes in order to better understand, deal with and learn from messy policy issues?

This challenging book seeks to answer these questions by focusing on the conflict that characterizes policy debate about messy issues.The author first develops a framework for analysing intractable policy conflict. In the second section, he applies the conceptual framework to four very different policy issues: the environment (focusing on climate change); transport; ageing; and health. Using evidence from Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific, the chapters compare how policy actors construct contending narratives in order to make sense of, and deal with, messy challenges. In the final section the author discusses the implications of the analysis for collective learning and adaptation processes.

The aims are to contribute to a more refined understanding of policy-making in the face of uncertainty, to provide practical methods for critical reflection on policy, and to point to sustainable adaptation pathways and learning mechanisms for policy formulation.

'This book should be read by anyone attempting to understand why policies often do not work.' B. Guy Peters, University of Pittsburgh and Zeppelin University, Germany 'The field of policy studies is knee-deep in turgid texts, but this is not one of them. Ney guides us through all the theories, pointing out where they converge and where they conflict, and ending with a subsuming tour de force in which he refurbishes the classic theory of pluralist democracy by pinning down just what it is that constitutes the plurality.' Michael Thompson, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria and Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, Said Business School, University of Oxford 'Steven Ney has produced an extremely important study of contemporary public policy. He points out the extent to which the most significant policy problems facing governments and society are complex and are not subject to neat, linear solutions. This book should be read by anyone attempting to understand why policies often do not work, and how they might be made to work more effectively.' B. Guy Peters, University of Pittsburgh and Zeppelin University, Germany


Dealing with Messy Policy Challenges; Ideas and Institutions: Integrating and Leveraging Contemporary Theories of the Policy Process; Understanding Accessibility: Conflicting Perceptions of European Transport Policy; Environmental Change, Vulnerability and Security; Demographic Ageing and Pension Reform; Health Care Policy; Intractable Conflict as a Means of Policy-Oriented Learning; Index.

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Steven Ney is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University. Trained as a policy analyst, Steven Ney has worked on a wide range of policy issues in a number of research institutes across Europe.

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