Policy appraisal

Type of practice:

Turnpenny, J., Adelle, C. and Jordan, A. (2012). Policy appraisal. In M. Howlett, (ed) Handbook of Public Policy, Routledge, London.



The practice of policy appraisal has recently spread rapidly throughout the OECD and beyond, along with the associated academic literature; over the last twenty years, policy appraisal has emerged as a popular topic for discussion amongst policy-makers and academics alike.  This chapter provides an introduction to the subject of ex-ante policy-level appraisal, setting it in the context of other forms of assessment such as Environmental Impact Assessment, and offers a brief tour of the history of the concept, reviewing the commonly-used tools. It discusses how policy appraisal has been working in practice in different contexts, and some of the constraints to its application. The chapter then reviews the research effort devoted to developing tools to inform appraisal activities, to evaluating the quality of policy appraisal, and also the growing interest in what might be termed the 'policy and politics' of policy appraisal.  Appraisal is undoubtedly an important site of political behaviour, with its own institutions, instruments and policy actors. Based on these insights, we situate policy appraisal in the literature on policy analysis and public policy-making more generally.  We find that policy appraisal is a rather new manifestation of many of the old debates in policy analysis between a positivist model of linear knowledge transfer between experts and policy-makers, and a ‘post-positivist’ critique, and how these differing theorisations have changed over time.  We finish by exploring some of the implications for the future of policy appraisal.


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