Three Eras in Policy Analysis: Review of Radin’s “Beyond Machiavelli: Policy Analysis Reaches Midlife”

Donovan A. McFarlane


Policy Analysis as a systematized body of knowledge or field of study has been defined in several ways. For example, Mayer, Els van Daalen, and Bots (n.d.) define Policy Analysis as a multi-faceted field in which a variety of different activities and ambitions have found a place; as a broad and versatile field of applied policy research and advice, where a multitude of perspectives and methods have developed. Vaitsman, Lobato, and Ribeiro (2013), state that policy analysis refers to either an interdisciplinary or applied field within the social sciences dealing with all of the activities within a planning system and which provides information for policy decision-makers in administrative and political systems. Policy analysis simply defines the problem and the goals, examines the arguments, and analyzes implementation of the policy regarding issues, usually issues involving the intermingling perspectives, rights, responsibilities and interests of stakeholders.

There are many books written on Policy Analysis and the policy process. Among them is a notable reader written by Beryl A. Radin, a faculty in the Georgetown Public Policy Institute and McCourt School of Public Policy at George Washington University. This book is the second in her series chronicling the practice and systematization of Public Policy, and titled, Beyond Machiavelli: Policy Analysis Reaches Midlife (2013), the first being Beyond Machiavelli: Policy Analysis Reaches Midlife (2004). In the work under review, the author provides an overview of Radin’s book and looks at the three fictional persons that Radin develops, and explains how these three persons represent different ways of doing policy analysis.  The author also critiques Radin’s model by looking at the strengths and weaknesses of each different approach. In the final analysis, the author deliberates on which model represents the best way to doing policy analysis with an understanding that each has its merits.

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