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Developing and Implementing Public Policy
Developing and Implementing Public Policy in Northern Ireland and South Africa (DIPP)


This project is one of thirty funded through the ESRC Future Governance Research Programme:Lessons from Comparative Public Policy.

Project Summary | Project team | Project Workshops | Project photos | Publications

Utilising a unique partnership between INCORE and CSVR, this study will focus on the development and implementation of policy in the negotiated transitions in Northern Ireland and South Africa. Two key areas of policy initiatives will be explored. The Northern Ireland focus will be on the Victims Commission and Policing Reform. In South Africa, the National Crime Prevention Strategy, community policing and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be investigated. These two societies in particular have shared similar negotiation practices, and looked to each other and elsewhere for model solutions to fill similar policy vacuums.

Research objectives
This comparative international study will provide new information on the gap between the drafting of policy in countries in transition and the actual implementation of policy and its delivery. Factors that have influenced policy development and/or implementation during these negotiated transitions will be explored, namely the role of bureaucracy and the old civil service, the skills and training of politicians, inertia or resistance to change and the effect of local and national policy approaches. The study will also assess factors particular to transition that have an impact on policy implementation: disaggregated bodies i.e. commissions, amnesty and the need to manage societies' expectations.

A key component of the study is the degree of lesson drawing and policy transfer taking place between these societies. Given the political context of this cross national comparison, research will take place on motivations for transfer and information exchange and facilitators of transfer - and in particular research and practice transfer - at the development stage of public policy. The study will supplement the limited literature on transfer between and exported from Southern countries, and the particular resonance of transfer during transition. The project will assess the degree and impact of transfer, the success of transferred policy and consequent implications for other post conflict societies.

Research design
After initial literature reviews and consultation with the SA team, primary interviews with key players will be held to establish policy areas, determine a standard structured interview schedule, retrieve dominant themes, and establish further contacts. Secondary interviews with stakeholders in each country across a range of policy making levels including civil servants, elected officials, policy advisors and academics will be conducted. Typical response sets and qualitative information will be obtained and analysed as material is collated. Two educational workshops with influential policy makers and interviewees will be held six months prior to the end of the project to provide further analysis and to practically develop a final report and resulting publications.

Academic and policy implications
The project will have engaged with and have implications for both researchers and practitioners concerned with public policy and transition. The project will contribute to understanding why policy development and implementation blockages occur and trace policy transfer as a factor of policy success or failure. The material gathered will form a unique and valuable resource for local and international networks of policy makers and voluntary and community sectors. It is anticipated that the project will form the basis for an edited book on Drawing Lessons in Public Policy in Societies in Transition and several journal articles. The results of the project will also be made available as a report/manual on comparative experiences of policy making and implementation.

Summary of the findings
A one thousand word summary of the intial research report is available from here.

Project Team


Gillian Robinson
Mari Fitzduff  
Helen Brocklehurst

Noel Stott

Brandon Hamber

The DIPP Project team @ INCORE on April 12th 2000 with Prof Ed Page (left). Left to right: Helen Brocklehurst, Gillian Robinson and Brandon Hamber.


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