Dr. Sabrina Kirschke (UNU Flores) and Dr. Hannah Kosow (ZIRIUS) are organizing a workshop on the politics of problem structuring at the International Workshops on Public Policy (IWPP3) in Budapest (28.- 30.06.2022).
Public policy scholars increasingly analyze public policy problems along with problem structures such as wickedness, complexity, uncertainty, or conflicts. This particularly holds true for so called nexus problems, which arguably span different policy (sub-)fields such as the water-energy-food nexus, the environment-development nexus, or the environment-health nexus. As an outcome, scholars suggest a variety of policy and governance strategies for effectively dealing with these wicked problems, such as coherent policy mixes or participatory governance arrangements.
But while this problem-structural approach is gaining momentum, we need to better understand the actual politics behind problem structuring and specifically how politics affects the construction of problems and respective solution strategies. Against this background, this workshop aims at addressing this neglected perspective on politics in problem structuring, focusing on the role of politics in policy construction and how respective constructions then affect policy design and implementation. Three research questions will guide the discussions:
1) Construction of problem structures I: What are the potential structural characteristics of public policy problems, and how can policy problems differ along with these structures?
2) Construction of problem structures II: Which roles do different actors from the public and private sector, civil society and academia play in the construction of problem structures of public policy problems, and what impacts do their interests and power relationships have?
3) Effects of problem structures: Which effects have (the constructions of) public policy problems on selected solution strategies in terms of policy and governance, including their likelihood to address problems effectively or in a rather symbolic matter?
To address these questions, the workshop suggests a dynamic format, combining (i) the presentation and discussion of research papers with (ii) more flexible discussion sessions in which different research results shall be connected to sketch out a joint and enhanced model of the role of politics in problem structuring.