Policy Process and Political Institutions 政策過程と政治システム

About the Course

This is one of the core courses for majoring in public policy. This course aims to provide students with opportunities to learn about policy processes and political institutions. First, we will learn the basic concepts of public policy and policy processes. Second, we will cover a variety of topics related to political institutions, for instance, presidential system versus parliamentary system, electoral rules, democracy versus non-democracy, and a variety of authoritarian institutions. We will look into questions such as: How do electoral rules affect the number of political parties? Does having authoritarian regimes in political institutions such as military dictatorships or non-democratic institutions but with a legislature or monarch system, affect policy dynamics? Lecture will be given each week and class discussion will also be combined depending on the topics being addressed. Lectures will emphasize theoretical and conceptual aspects rather than focusing on specific country-by-country examples, though some cases will be provided for illustrative purposes.

Contents of Lectures 11 Lectures


Course Learning Goals

The first goal of this course is to provide a basic working knowledge of public policy making processes. Secondly, students will learn concepts and theories which will enable them to categorize and analyze political institutions in democracies. Thirdly, we will examine international institutions to assess whether they have an impact on policy outputs. Finally, we will analyze how democracies and non-democracies differ in various country settings.

Course Requirements

Class Presentation 1 20%

Short essay 1 20% (4-7pp, times new roman 12 font preferred, including tables or figures and references)

Short essay 2 20%

Term Paper 20% (5-15pp, times new roman 12 font preferred)

Attendance and Class Participation

20% Lectures are given almost every week and students are expected to make one presentation and write two short essays out of five topics. The detailed directions for presentations or short essays will be announced later depending on topics. You will need to distribute a handout to class when you make a presentation. The handout should include a detailed outline of the presentation as well as show evidence to support your arguments. We will have class discussions following each student presentation. Short essays should also include enough evidence to support your arguments or analysis. You may choose the same topic for your presentation and one of the short essays if you wish.

For the final term assignment, each student will need to develop a final essay based on all these five topics by the end of term. The guidelines for the final paper will be distributed later.

Each student is expected to complete all reading assignments and should be ready to take part in classes. Attendance and active participation in class discussion constitute an important part of the course grade. The only justifiable reason to be absent from classes is job hunting.

I strongly encourage Japanese students to take courses conducted in English. Although this class is conducted in English, students may ask questions in Japanese or submit homework in Japanese, but I highly encourage you to take this opportunity to sharpen your English skills. Also, regardless of your current level of English proficiency, I will evaluate highly your efforts to be ready to speak out in English in class discussions.

Major Course Readings

Birkland, Thomas A. 2005. An Introduction to the Policy Process: Theories, Concepts, and Models of Public Policy Making, Second Edition. Armonk: M.E. Sharp. Lijphart, Arend. 1999. Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven: Yale University Press. Gandhi, Jennifer. 2008. Political Institutions under Dictatorship. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Course schedule

Week One : Introduction: What is Public Policy?

Birkland, Chapter 1

Week Two: Policy Process: Policy Cycle, Actors &Agenda Setting Process

Read Birkland Chapters 4-5

Week Three: Two Models of Democracy & Party Systems

Read Lijphart Chapters 2, 3, & 5

Presentation & Discussion 1: Social Construction of Issues, Numbers, and Focusing Events

Select examples from news or newspapers or events and discuss how numbers, framing of issues, and focusing on events affect policy processes and/or policy outputs.

Week Four: Cabinets

Read Lijphart Chapter 6

Week Five: Presidentialism versus Parliamentarism

Read Lijphart Chapter 7

Week Six: Presentation & Discussion 2: Party System and/or Cabinets

Select examples from a democratic country and show how party system and coalition dynamics work overtime and/or across countries.

Presentation & Discussion 3: Presidentialism versus Parliamentarism

Linz, Juan J. 1990. “The Perils of Presidentialism.” Journal of Democracy Winter: 51–69.

Summarize the main points of the reading assignment for this week and then present your own view on whether you prefer a parliamentary system or presidential system based on the reading assignments for weeks 5 and 6 and class lectures.

Week Seven: Electoral Systems

Read Lijphart Chapter 8

International Organizations 1: IMF and Conditionality Programs

IMF Independent Evaluation Office. 2007. “An IEO Evaluation of Structural Conditionality in IMF-Supported Programs.”


Week Eight: International Organizations 2: Reforming the IMF

IMF Independent Evaluation Office. 2008. “Governance of the IMF an Evaluation.”


Presentation & Discussion 4: Electoral Systems

Read Lijphart Chapter 8

Select one democratic country and examine electoral systems and election outcomes. What are political cleavages in the country? Do these cleavages influence electoral rules adopted in the country and if so, how? Does the electoral rule produce expected outcomes? How would you suggest better electoral rule for the country?

Week Nine: Non-Democratic Regimes: Totalitarian Regime and Sultanistic Regime

Linz, Juan J. 2000. Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes. Boulder: Lynne Rienner, pp65-75.

Gandhi, Jennifer. 2008. Political Institutions under Dictatorship. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp1-41. A Variety of Authoritarian InstitutionsBrownlee, Jason. 2007. Authoritarianism in an Age of Democratization. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp1-43.

Week Ten: Concept of Veto Players and Policy Changes

Andrew MacIntyre. 2001. “Institutions and Investors: The Politics of the Economic Crisis in Southeast Asia.” International Organization 55(1): 81–122.

Presentation and Discussion 5: Case Studies of Political Development

Select one country that is not a stable democracy (namely exclude high OECD countries) and examine its history of political development after WWII or post independence. Describe what kind o f political institutions the country has had under autocracy or democracy and how these institutions and regimes have changed over time.

Week Eleven: Questions and Answers

Paper Due

Instructor: OMORI‚ Sawa 大森佐和 | Language of Instruction: E/J

Major: Public Policy 公共政策 | Course ID: PPL203 | Course Schedule: 4*/W, 4*/F | Update: 2013.04.01 Category: Major Courses