Skip to main content

Policy success for whom? A framework for analysis

Abstract

This article develops a heuristic framework to help analysts navigate an important but under-researched issue: ‘policy success for whom?’ It identifies different forms of policy success across the policy making, program, political and temporal realms, to assess how a specific policy can differentially benefit a variety of stakeholders, including governments, lobbyists, not-for-profits, community groups and individuals. The article identifies a three-step process to aid researchers in examining any policy initiative in order to understand the forms and extent of success experienced by any actor/stakeholder. Central to these steps is the examination of plausible assessments and counter assessments to help interrogate issues of ‘success for whom.’ The article demonstrates a practical application of the framework to a case study focused on the Fixing Houses for Better Health (FHBH) program in Australia—a time-limited Commonwealth government-funded program aimed at improving Indigenous health outcomes by fixing housing.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Arrigoitia, M. F. (2014). UnMaking public housing towers. The Journal of Architecture, Design and Domestic Space, 11(2), 167–196.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Australian National Audit Office. (2011). Indigenous housing initiatives: The fixing houses for better health program. Audit Report No. 21. Canberra: Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Australian Government.

  3. Bacchi, C., & Goodwin, S. (2016). Poststructural policy analysis: A guide to practice. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Baggott, R. (2012). Policy success and public health: The case of public health in England. Journal of Social Policy, 41(2), 391–408.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Balloch, S., & Taylor, D. (2005). What the politics of evaluation implies. In D. Taylor & S. Balloch (Eds.), The politics of evaluation: Participation and policy implementation (pp. 249–252). Bristol: Policy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Baumgartner, F. R., & Jones, B. D. (2009). Agendas and instability in American politics (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bovens, M., ’t Hart, P., & Kuipers, S. (2006). The politics of policy evaluation. In M. Moran, M. Rein, & R. E. Goodin (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of public policy (pp. 319–335). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bovens, M., ’t Hart, P., & Peters, B. G. (Eds.). (2001). Success and failure in public governance: A comparative analysis. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Cairney, P. (2013). Standing on the shoulders of giants: How do we combine the insights of multiple theories in public policy studies? Policy Studies Journal, 41(1), 1–21.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Cairney, P. (2016). The politics of evidence-based policy making. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Cairney, P. (2020). Understanding public policy: Theories and issues (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan International/Red Globe Press.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Colebatch, H. K., & Hoppe, R. (Eds.) (2018). Introduction to the handbook on policy, process and governing. In Handbook on policy, process and governing (pp. 1–13). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

  13. Compton, M., & ’t Hart, P. (Eds.) (2019). Great policy successes: How governments get it right in a big way at least some of the time. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  14. Crosbie, E., Sosa, P., & Glantz, S. A. (2018). Defending strong tobacco packaging and labelling regulations in Uruguay: Transnational tobacco control network versus Philip Morris. Tobacco Control, 27, 185–193.

    Google Scholar 

  15. de Leon, P. (1988). Advice and consent: The development of the policy sciences. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Dunn, W. N. (2016). Public policy analysis (5th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Edelman, M. (1977). Political language: Words that succeed and policies that fail. New York, NY: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Fischer, F. (1995). Evaluating public policy. Chicago, IL: Nelson-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Fischer, F. (2003). Reframing public policy: Discursive politics and deliberative practices. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Fulton, C. L. (2012). Plausibility. In A. J. Mills, G. Durepos, & E. Wiebe (Eds.), Encyclopaedia of case research (pp. 683–684). London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Hall, P. G. (1982). Great planning disasters. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Head, B. W. (2008). Wicked problems in public policy. Public Policy, 3(2), 101–118.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Hodge, G. A., & Greve, C. (2017). On public private partnership performance: A contemporary review. Public Works Management and Policy, 22(1), 55–78.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Hoppe, R. (2010). The governance of problems: Puzzling, powering and participation. Bristol: Policy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Howlett, M. (2009). Governance modes, policy regimes and operational plans: A multi-level nested model of policy instrument choice and policy design. Policy Sciences, 42(1), 72–89.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Howlett, M., & Mukherjee, I. (Eds.). (2018). Routledge handbook of policy design. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Jones, M. D., Shanahan, E. A., & McBeth, M. K. (Eds.). (2014). The science of stories: Applications of the narrative policy framework in public policy analysis. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Kay, A., & Boxall, A. (2015). Success and failure in public policy: Twin imposters or avenues for reform? Selected evidence from 40 years of health-care reform in Australia. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 74(1), 33–41.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Lasswell, H. D. (1936). Politics: Who gets what, when, how. New York, NY: Whittlesey House.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Lasswell, H. D. (1971). A pre-view of policy sciences. New York, NY: American Elsevier.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Lea, T. (2008). Housing for health in indigenous Australia: Driving change when research and policy are part of the problem. Human Organization, 67(1), 77–85.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Lea, T. (2020). Wild policy: Indigeneity and the unruly logics of intervention. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Lea, T., Grealy, L., & Cornell, C. (2018). Housing policy and infrastructural inequality in indigenous Australia and beyond. Issues Paper. Sydney: Housing for Health Incubator. https://www.hfhincubator.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Incubator-Issues-Paper-May-2018-1.pdf.

  34. Lea, T., & Pholeros, P. (2010). This is not a pipe: The treacheries of Indigenous housing. Public Culture, 22(1), 187−209.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Luetjens, J., Mintrom, M., & ’t Hart, P. (Eds.) (2019). Successful public policy: Lessons from Australia and New Zealand. Canberra: ANZSOG.

  36. Lukes, S. (2005). Power: A radical view (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Mahoney, J., & Goertz, G. (2004). The possibility principle: Choosing negative cases in comparative research. American Political Science Review, 98(4), 653–669.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Marsh, D., & McConnell, A. (2010). Towards a framework for establishing policy success. Public Administration, 88(2), 586–587.

    Google Scholar 

  39. McConnell, A. (2010). Understanding policy success: Rethinking public policy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  40. McConnell, A. (2017a). Policy success and failure. In B. G. Peters (Ed.), Oxford research encyclopaedia of politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  41. McConnell, A. (2017b). Hidden agendas: Shining a light on the dark side of public policy. Journal of European Public Policy, 28(12), 1739–1758.

    Google Scholar 

  42. McConnell, A. (2020). The use of placebo policies to escape from policy traps. Journal of European Public Policy, 27(7), 957–976.

    Google Scholar 

  43. McPeake, T., & Pholeros, P. (2006) Fixing Houses for Better Health in remote communities. Australian Social Policy 2006, 111–124. Canberra: Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

  44. National Framework for the Design, Construction and Maintenance of Indigenous Housing. (1999). Canberra: Department of Family and Community Services.

  45. Newman, J. (2014). Measuring policy success: Case studies from Canada and Australia. Australian Journal of Public Policy, 73(2), 192–205.

    Google Scholar 

  46. NSW Health. (2010). Closing the gap: 10 Years of housing for health in NSW: An evaluation of a healthy housing intervention. Sydney: NSW Department of Health.

    Google Scholar 

  47. O’Connor, C., & Joffe, H. (2020). Intercoder reliability in qualitative research: debates and practical guidelines. International Journal of Qualitative methods, 19, 1–13.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Ostrom, E. (2007). Institutional rational choice: An assessment of the institutional analysis and development framework. In P. A. Sabatier (Ed.), Theories of the policy process (2nd ed., pp. 21–64). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Pholeros, P. (2002a). Fixing houses for better health. Architecture Australia. July/August, pp. 78–79.

  50. Pholeros, P. (2002b). Housing for health and fixing houses for better health. Environmental Health, 2(4), 34–38.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Pholeros, P., Lea, T., Rainow, S., Sowerbutts, T., & Torzillo, P. (2013). Improving the state of health hardware in Australian Indigenous housing: Building more houses is not the only answer. International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 71(Supplement 1), 435–440.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Pholeros, P., Rainow, S., & Torzillo, P. (1993). Housing for health: Towards a healthy living environment for aboriginal Australia. Newport Beach: Healthabitat.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Pholeros, P., Torzillo, P., & Rainow, S. (2000). Housing for health: Principles and projects, South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, 1985–1997. In P. Read (Ed.), Settlement: A history of Australian Indigenous housing (pp. 199–208). Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Rose, N., & Miller, P. (1992). Political power beyond the state: Problematics of government. The British Journal of Sociology, 43(2), 173–205.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Sabatier, P. A. (2000). Clear enough to be wrong. Journal of European Public Policy, 7(1), 135–140.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Sabatier, P. A., & Jenkins-Smith, H. (Eds.). (1993). Policy change and learning: An advocacy coalition approach. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Sabatier, P. A., & Weible, C. M. (Eds.). (2014). Theories of the policy process (3rd ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Schneider, A. L., & Ingram, H. (1997). Policy design for democracy. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.

    Google Scholar 

  59. SGS Economics and Planning. (2006). Evaluation of fixing houses for better health projects 2, 3 and 4. Occasional Paper No. 14. Canberra, Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Australian Government.

  60. Torzillo, P., Pholeros, P., Rainow, S., et al. (2008). The State of health hardware in Aboriginal Communities in rural and remote Australia. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 32(1), 7–11.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Urban, F. (2012). Towers and slab: Histories of global mass housing. Abingdon: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Vedung, E. (2017). Public policy and program evaluation. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Werner, T. (2015). Gaining access by doing good: The effect of sociopolitical reputation on firm participation in public policy making. Management Science, 61(8), 1989–2011.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Wildavsky, A. (1987). Speaking truth to power: The art and craft of policy analysis (2nd ed.). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The Housing for Health Incubator is partnered with Healthabitat and is funded by the Henry Halloran Trust, the University of Sydney Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the University of Sydney Medical School, the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, and The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Funding

This article is part of the research program of the Housing for Health Incubator, which is funded by the Henry Halloran Trust, the University of Sydney Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the University of Sydney Medical School, the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, and The Fred Hollows Foundation.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Liam Grealy.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

No financial interest or benefit has arisen from the direct applications of this research. The Housing for Health Incubator is partnered with the not-for-profit company, Healthabitat, which licenses the Housing for Health methodology.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

McConnell, A., Grealy, L. & Lea, T. Policy success for whom? A framework for analysis. Policy Sci 53, 589–608 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11077-020-09406-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Policy success
  • Policy evaluation
  • Power relations
  • Australia
  • Indigenous housing