Policy work in multi-level states: Institutional autonomy and task allocation among canadian policy analysts

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Despite all the attention paid to the topic of policy analysis as a conceptual endeavour, empirically, the actual work of policy analysts is little investigated and little known. This is true generally of most countries and jurisdictions but it is most acute at the subnational level of government in multilevel states. Recent work in Canada, however, based on comprehensive surveys of analysts of provincial and territorial policy, on the one hand, and regionally and Ottawa-based federal policy workers on the other, has found many similarities with national-level work but also significant differences. This work has highlighted differences in the distribution of tasks across jurisdictions—mainly the extent to which policy work involves implementation as well as formulation-related activities—as key distinctions found in policy work across levels of the Canadian multilevel system. This article uses frequency and principal components analysis (PCA) and structural equation modeling (SEM) to probe these dimensions of policy work. It shows provincial and territorial analysts to be similar to regionally based federal workers in task allocation, undermining a straightforward depiction of differences in policy work by level of government. The extent of autonomy enjoyed by policy workers in different jurisdictional venues, both from internal actors and those outside of government, is shown to be the key driver of differences in policy work across levels of government.

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© 2012 Canadian Political Science Association. Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0008423912000984

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Canadian Journal of Political Science