The course contributes to the students' knowledge and skills for the design and the evaluation of the effectiveness of policy interventions. In better details, the course departs from the usual concern of policy evaluation for establishing whether a given policy intervention had an effect, and focuses instead on the broader puzzle of why a policy intervention failed or succeeded to yield an outcome of interest. Then, the course equips students with (a) the knowledge to develop a credible explanatory hypothesis about policy success and failure that, when proven, can serve policy learning; and (b) with the methodological skills to operationalize and test the import of such a hypothesis - as follows. (a) As for the knowledge part, the course defines a policy success and failure in terms of policy outcomes as the performance of a political system. Consistently, the course emphasizes the contribution of institutional designs to performance results. It invites the students to understand policy outcomes as the aggregate result of individual behavior, and policies as bundles of instruments that can elicit behavioral changes when deployed in the field by engineering people's options. The course, then, links the differences in policy performance to the differences in the governance of the instruments in use. It systematically reviews the features of the governance designs that theoretical and empirical literature identified as causally relevant to the proper functioning of a type of instrument, and distills expectations about the nexus linking governance features and policy performance through instruments. Eventually, the course promotes a pragmatic approach to the diagnosis of policy failure that makes room for actual solution. It emphasizes the institutional may not be single best explanations - if any; however, they originate from rules, which are artifacts and can be actually changed to improve the performance. (b) As for the skill part, the course builds on the consideration that explanations, and particularly institutional/governance explanations, are complex in their nature. Similar to chemical reactions, they make an effect follow from the "right" configuration of many conditions, and possibly from alternative configurations. The course portrays the challenge that chemical causation arises to conventional methods in policy evaluation and diagnoses the challenge on two facts: first, configurational explanations can be broader than variable chains due to composition, constitution, and equifinality; second, to yield credible results their analysis requires more formalized comparisons than single cases usually allow. Hence, students are offered a Quinean language of propositional logic to render a configurational explanation as the conjunction, disjunction, and implication of the qualities of a unit of analysis. Then, they learn how to assemble qualities into a configurational hypothesis and to calibrate them into crisp and fuzzy sets. Last, they learn how to apply the protocols and algorithms of Qualitative Comparative Analysis to assess the explanatory power of a configurational hypothesis and to identify those special structures that account for the different outcomes in a population of interest."
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, the students will be able to: a) Understand policy success and failure as the result of a local chain of implications running from the governance design to an outcome through the instrument of interventions; b) Appreciate the differences among types of instruments and among the related types of governance; c) Develop expectations about the connection between institutional features and policy performance; d) Identify a suitable strategy to test expectations; e) Render the expectations as a logical hypothesis about complex causation; f) Apply protocols of Qualitative Comparative Analysis on R as a suitable strategy for testing logical hypotheses about complex causation
Module 1: What do we study? Class 01 - Introduction: causes and effects in public policy. Class 02 - Frameworks: models of governance, power arenas, and action situations. Class 03 - Policy effectiveness: policy instruments and individual behavior Class 04 - Policy effectiveness: decision-making and account-giving rules. Class 05 - Test 1: structured debate.
Module 2: How do we study it? Class 06 - Explanation as an exercise in classical logic: from syllogisms to generative mechanisms. Class 07 -- Probing causation: from Mill's canons to QCA and the Quine McCluskey's minimizations. Class 08 - From causal properties to explanatory conditions - measures and their calibration. Class 09 - Necessity and sufficiency with Boolean algebra - parameters of fit of individual conditions. Class 10 - Truth table analysis, easy and hard counterfactuals, solutions and their representation. Class 11 - Test 2:
Module 3: How is it actually done? Class 12 - Defining the model: the INUS causes of corruption Class 13 - Constructing the explanatory conditions, and assessing their explanatory power. Class 14 - Constructing and analyzing the truth table. Class 15 - Standard Analysis, solution plots, and discussion.
Module 4: Trying it Class 16 and 17 - Presentation and discussion of replication studies Class 18 through 20 - Bring your laptop: writing R functions under guidance
Non-attending students are invited to: 1. Start from Mackie's understanding of a causal mechanism 2. Use mechanisms as a lens through which the governance literature can be made sense of, and construct a configurational model accounting for differences in a policy performance of their interest across a reasoned selection of countries 3. Learn from Ragin how to compare systematically and logically across cases so as to probe the explanatory power of Mackie's compound causes 4. Apply it all by using the data from http://www.sgi-network.org/