The 'Lumpiness' Thesis Revisited: The Venues of Policy Work and the Distribution of Analytical Techniques in Canada

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Department of Social Sciences


This paper contributes to the understanding of analytical practices and tools employed by policy analysts involved in policy formulation and appraisal by examining data drawn from 15 surveys of federal, provincial and territorial government policy analysts in Canada conducted in 2009-2010, two surveys of NGO analysts conducted in 2010-2011 and two surveys of external policy consultants conducted in 2012-2013. Data from these surveys allow the exploration of several facets of the use of analytical tools ranging from more precise description of the frequency of use of specific kinds of tools and techniques in government as well as their distribution between permanent government officials and external policy analysts. As the paper shows, the frequency of use of major types of analytical techniques used in policy formulation is not the same between the three types of actors and also varies within government by Department and issue type. Nevertheless some general patterns in the use of policy appraisal tools in government can be discerned, with all groups employing process-related tools more frequently than ‘substantive’ tools related to the technical analysis of policy proposals.

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Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy