Theories of the Policy Process


Edited by Christopher M. Weible and Paul A. Sabatier

Fourth Edition • July 5, 2017 • 432 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813350523 • $47.00 USD$60.99 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813350783 • $28.99 USD$36.99 CAN

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Available July 2017

Theories of the Policy Process provides a forum for the experts in the most established and widely used theoretical frameworks in policy process research to present the basic propositions, empirical evidence, latest updates, and the promising future research opportunities of each framework. This well-regarded volume covers such enduring classics as Multiple Streams (Zahariadis et al.), Punctuated Equilibrium (Jones et al.), Advocacy Coalition Framework (Jenkins-Smith et al.), Institutional Analysis and Development Framework (Schlager and Cox), and Policy Diffusion (Berry and Berry), as well as two newer theories—Policy Feedback (Mettler and SoRelle) and Narrative Policy Framework (McBeth et al.).

The fourth edition now includes a discussion of global and comparative perspectives in each theoretical chapter and a brand-new chapter that explores how these theories have been adapted for, and employed in, non-American and non-Western contexts. An expanded introduction and revised conclusion fully examines and contextualizes the history, trajectories and functions of public policy research. Since its first publication in 1999, Theories of the Policy Process has been, and remains, the quintessential gateway to the field of policy process research for students, scholars and practitioners.


Christopher M. Weible is associate professor at the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver. He is co-editor of Policy Debates in Hydraulic Fracking (2016).

Paul A. Sabatier was political scientist and professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Davis.

Introduction: The Scope and Focus of Policy Process Research and Theory, Christopher M. Weible

Part I: Theoretical Approaches to Policy Process Research
Chapter 1. Ambiguity and Multiple Streams, Nikolaos Zahariadis

Chapter 2. Punctuated-Equilibrium Theory: Explaining Stability and Change in Public Policymaking, Frank R. Baumgartner, Bryan D. Jones, and Peter B. Mortensen

Chapter 3. Policy Feedback Theory, Suzanne Mettler and Mallory SoRelle

Chapter 4. Advocacy Coalition Framework: Foundations, Evolution, and Ongoing Research, Hank C. Jenkins-Smith, Daniel Nohrstedt, Christopher M. Weible, and Paul A. Sabatier

Chapter 5. The Narrative Policy Framework, Mark K. McBeth, Michael D. Jones, and Elizabeth A. Shanahan

Chapter 6. An Assessment of the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework and Introduction of the Socio-Ecological Systems Framework, Elinor Ostrom, Michael Cox, and Edella Schlager

Chapter 7. Innovations and Diffusion Models in Policy Research, Frances Stokes Berry and William D. Berry

Part II: Conclusions
Chapter 10. Comparing Theoretical Approaches, Paul Cairney and Tanya Heikkila

Chapter 11. Untitled New Global/Comparative Chapter, TBD

Chapter 12. Moving Forward and Climbing Upwards: Advancing Policy Process Research, Christopher M. Weible

Praise for Prior Editions
Theories of the Policy Process simultaneously achieves two important goals: It engages policy process researchers in a discourse about the status and future direction of the field and provides students with a detailed overview of the leading policy process models, theories, and frameworks. It appeals as a research guide and as a course text.” —Saba Siddiki, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Theories of the Policy Process is a unique resource that brings clarity to our collective understanding of the policy process. The contributors are first rate, the writing is clear and concise, and there is no other place where all of the major academic approaches to the policymaking process can be found.” —Steven Stehr, Washington State University

“I have found this book to be particularly useful for exposing students to the major theories in the field. Each chapter breaks a particular theory down into a fairly concise manner. Theories of the Policy Process provides students with a working knowledge of a theory that really assists in their eventual mastery of the theory in subsequent readings. I have found this approach to significantly enhance and improve students’ ability to understand the original texts the chapters are based upon.” —Alesha Doan, University of Kansas

“This is without question the best book on the theories of the policy process. There are many policy textbooks out there, but none that engage with contemporary theories of the process in such a comprehensive way.” —Robert S. Wood, University of North Dakota

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