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Policy Theories in Hard Times? Assessing the Explanatory Power of Policy Theories in the Context of Crisis


  • Georg Wenzelburger

    () (TU Kaiserslautern)

  • Pascal D. König

    (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt)

  • Frieder Wolf

    (Universität Heidelberg)


Can the behavior of political actors in business-as-usual conditions be analyzed with the same theoretical framework as decision-making in situations characterized by uncertainty, ambiguity, complexity and urgency? After comparing major existing approaches and evaluating their explanatory logic under crisis circumstances, the present article develops a theoretical framework which explicitly accounts for the crisis characteristics at two stages of the policy making process, agenda-setting and decision-making. The bearing of policy-entrepreneurs, international networks, institutions and partisanship on policy outcomes critically depends on the specific workings on these levels in crisis-mode. These expectations are probed in an empirical re-evaluation of the 2011 Spanish pension reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Georg Wenzelburger & Pascal D. König & Frieder Wolf, 2019. "Policy Theories in Hard Times? Assessing the Explanatory Power of Policy Theories in the Context of Crisis," Public Organization Review, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 97-118, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:porgrv:v:19:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1007_s11115-017-0387-1
    DOI: 10.1007/s11115-017-0387-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hacker, Jacob S., 2004. "Privatizing Risk without Privatizing the Welfare State: The Hidden Politics of Social Policy Retrenchment in the United States," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 98(2), pages 243-260, May.
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    5. Bearce, David H. & Bondanella, Stacy, 2007. "Intergovernmental Organizations, Socialization, and Member-State Interest Convergence," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(4), pages 703-733, October.
    6. Ian Goldin & Mike Mariathasan, 2015. "The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do about It," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10214-2.
    7. Arjen Boin, 2009. "The New World of Crises and Crisis Management: Implications for Policymaking and Research," Review of Policy Research, Policy Studies Organization, vol. 26(4), pages 367-377, July.
    8. Frank R. Baumgartner & Christian Breunig & Christoffer Green‐Pedersen & Bryan D. Jones & Peter B. Mortensen & Michiel Nuytemans & Stefaan Walgrave, 2009. "Punctuated Equilibrium in Comparative Perspective," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 53(3), pages 603-620, July.
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