Journal Article Abstracts

This is a list of my academic journal article abstracts, with links to the full text. If you have any difficulty accessing them, please email

The role of ideas in policy transfer: the case of UK smoking bans since devolution
Journal of European Public Policy 16:3 April 2009: 471–488
This article explores the relationship between ideas and interests in policy change by examining tobacco control in each country of the United Kingdom (UK). In all four, the moves towards further prohibition reflected international trends, with evidence of policy transfer and the virus-like spread of ideas which has shifted the way that tobacco is framed. However, there are notable differences in the development of policy in each territory. This reinforces conceptions of transfer in which the importation of policy is mediated by political systems. Differences in policy conditions, institutions and ‘windows of opportunity’ mean that our conclusions on the role and influence of interest groups, institutions and agenda-setting vary by territory, even within a member state. This suggests that a focus on an ‘idea whose time has come’ should be supplemented by careful analysis of the political context in which the idea was articulated and accepted.

The ‘British Policy Style’ and Mental Health: Beyond the Headlines
Forthcoming in Journal of Social Policy, 2009
Recent Mental Health Acts provide evidence of diverging UK1 and Scottish government policy styles. The UK legislative process lasted almost ten years following attempts by ministers to impose decisions and an unprecedented level of sustained opposition from interest groups. In contrast, the consultation process in Scotland was consensual, producing high levels of stakeholder ‘ownership’. This article considers two narratives on the generalisability of this experience. The first suggests that it confirms a ‘majoritarian’ British policy style, based on the centralisation of power afforded by a first-past-the-post electoral system (Lijphart, 1999). Diverging styles are likely because widespread hopes for consensus politics in the devolved territories have been underpinned by proportional representation. The second suggests that most policy-making is consensual, based on the diffusion of power across policy sectors and the ‘logic of consultation’ between governments and interest groups (Jordan and Richardson, 1982). The legislative process deviated temporarily from the ‘normal’ British policy style which is more apparent when we consider mental health policy as a whole. Overall, the evidence points to more than one picture of British styles; it suggests that broad conclusions on ‘majoritarian’ systems must be qualified by detailed empirical investigation.

Forthcoming in Public Policy and Administration, 2009
This article has two aims: to qualify the UK government’s ‘problem’ of governance in a comparison with Scotland and Wales, and to use implementation studies (the ancestors of the new governance literature) to explore policy developments since devolution in Britain. It presents a puzzling finding from extensive interview research: that while we may expect UK government policy to suffer a bigger ‘implementation gap’ based on distinctive governance problems (such as greater service delivery fragmentation and the unintended consequences of top-down policy styles), pressure participants in Scotland and Wales are more likely to report implementation failures. Using a ‘top-down’ framework, it explores three main explanations for this finding: that the size of the implementation gap in England is exaggerated by a focus on particular governance problems; that pressure participant dissatisfaction follows unrealistic expectations in the devolved territories; and that the UK government undermines devolved policy implementation, by retaining control of key policy instruments and setting the agenda on measures of implementation success.

Federalism and Multilevel Governance in Tobacco Policy: The European Union,
United Kingdom, and Devolved Institutions
Bossman Asare, Paul Cairney and Donley T. Studlar

Journal of Public Policy, 29, 1, 79-102, 2009 Most studies of tobacco (control) policy focus on the central level of individual countries. Yet within the member states of the European Union, three levels of government have responsibilities for tobacco control: (1) the EU since 1985; (2) the central governments of member states; and (3) the provinces or devolved level of government. This article examines the role of each in the formation of tobacco policy in the United Kingdom. It compares the theory of regulatory federalism with multilevel governance as explanations for tobacco regulatory policy within the EU. While executive-legislative fusion in the United Kingdom leads to the practice of discretionary federalism, the EU provides mixed support for the theory of regulatory federalism. There is significant policy innovation in the UK and its devolved territories as well as limited policy authority for tobacco control in the EU. Overall, multi-level governance (MLG) may be a superior, albeit incomplete, explanation of tobacco control within the EU and the UK.

Territorial policy communities and devolution in the UK
Michael Keating, Paul Cairney and Eve Hepburn
Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 2, 1, 51-66, 2009
Devolution in the UK forms part of a wider process of spatial rescaling across Europe. Little work has been done on its effect on interest articulation. The literature on policy communities treats them as sectoral in scope. We propose the concept of ‘territorial policy communities’ to designate territorially bounded constellations of actors within and across policy sectors, emerging in response to the rescaling of government. Devolution may leave existing systems of interest articulation unchanged, leaving ‘regions without regionalism’; it may confine some groups within territorial boundaries while allowing others the freedom to choose’ between levels of government; or it might promote a general territorialization of interest representation and the emergence of territorial policy communities. The UK’s four models of devolution help test the effects of stronger and weaker forms of devolution on the territorialization of groups.

Has Devolution Changed the ‘British Policy Style’?
British Politics, 3, 3, 350-72, 2008
The term ‘policy style’ simply means the way that governments make and implement policy. Yet, the term ‘British policy style’ may be confusing since it has the potential to relate to British exceptionalism or European convergence. Lijphart’s important contribution identifies the former. It sets up a simple distinction between policy styles in majoritarian and consensual democracies and portrays British policy-making as top down and different from a consensual European approach. In contrast, Richardson identifies a common ‘European policy style’. This suggests that although the political structures of each country vary, they share a ‘standard operating procedure’ based on two factors — an incremental approach to policy and an attempt to reach a consensus with interest groups rather than impose decisions. This article extends these arguments to British politics since devolution. It questions the assumption that policy styles are diverging within Britain. Although consultation in the devolved territories may appear to be more consensual, they are often contrasted with a caricature of the UK process based on
atypical examples of top-down policy-making.While there may be a different ‘feel’ to participation in Scotland and Wales, a similar logic of consultation and bureaucratic accommodation exists in the UK. This suggests that, although devolution has made a difference, a British (or European) policy style can still be identified.

A ‘Multiple Lenses’ Approach to Policy Change: The Case of Tobacco Policy in the UK
British Politics (2007) 2, 1, 45–68
This article examines a period of rapid policy change following decades of stability in UK tobacco. It seeks to account for such a long period of policy stability, to analyse and qualify the extent of change, and to explain change using a ‘multiple lenses’ approach. It compares the explanatory value of policy network models such as punctuated equilibrium and the advocacy coalition framework, with models stressing change from ‘above and below’ such as multi-level governance and policy transfer. A key finding is that the value of these models varies according to the narrative of policy change that we select. The article challenges researchers to be careful about assuming the nature of policy change before embarking on explanation. While the findings of the case study may vary with other policy areas in British politics, the call for clarity and lessons from multiple approaches are widely applicable.

Using Devolution to Set the Agenda? Venue shift and the smoking ban in Scotland
British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 9,1, 73-89, 2007

This article examines the changing agendas on smoking-related issues in Scotland. It charts the methods that groups, governments and MSPs use to frame and pursue or suppress discussion of the prohibition of smoking in public places. The article presents two narratives—one which stresses ‘new politics’ and the ability of groups to influence policy through Scottish Parliamentary procedures, and another which stresses Scottish Executive ‘business as usual’ and presents smoking legislation as a logical progression from early ministerial commitments. A combination of narratives suggests that tobacco legislation in Scotland was by no means part of an inevitable international trend towards prohibition and this article traces the precise conditions or ‘policy windows’ in which decisions take place. The discussion highlights the often unsettled nature of the devolution settlement and the ability of Scottish issues to influence UK agendas.

The Professionalisation of MPs: Refining the ‘Politics-Facilitating’ Explanation
Parliamentary Affairs, 60, 2, 212-33, 2007 PDF
The term ‘politics-facilitating occupation’ is used widely but loosely in the MP recruitment literature. Comparative evidence suggests that this term has a different meaning according to the country, parliament and time period in which it is evoked. Most discussions do not fully explore party differences or distinguish between brokerage and instrumental occupations (used as a means to an elected end). This study analyses differing conceptions of politics-facilitating occupations and assesses their value in tracking change over time in the UK. It then explores innovative ways to identify the importance of the instrumental category. A sole focus on formative occupation oversimplifies the data while the analysis of multiple occupations combined with occupation immediately before election highlights a significance not identified in the literature. While previous studies have highlighted occupations as ‘stepping stones’ to elected office, this is the first to quantify their significance fully.

The Analysis of Scottish Parliament Committees: Beyond Capacity and Structure in Comparing West European Legislatures
European Journal of Political Research, 45, 2, 181-208, 2006
The Scottish Parliament was set up in the hope that strong committees would foster consensus, with an emphasis on reducing partisanship and adopting a pragmatic approach to the detailed study of draft legislation. However, few empirical studies exist that assess the value of the committee process. This flaw is common within the West European literature. The comparative literature on legislative influence is lacking in detailed empirical studies (in part because of the dominant assumption within the literature that parliaments are peripheral to the policy process). Most studies provide impressionistic discussions of the capacities of committees and the constraints to their effectiveness. They do not follow this through with an analysis of committee ‘outputs’. This study of the amendments process in the Scottish Parliament addresses the gap. It uses data from a four-year study of legislative amendments to develop indicators of parliamentary outputs. While the results confirm that the committee system operates at the heart of the ‘new politics’ in Scotland, further such individual country studies are necessary to supplement much broader comparative analyses.

Venue Shift Following Devolution: When Reserved Meets Devolved in Scotland
Regional and Federal Studies, 16, 4, 429-45, 2006
This article examines the means used to address blurred or shifting boundaries between reserved UK and devolved Scottish policy. It outlines the main issues of multi-level governance and intergovernmental relations in Scotland and the initial problems faced in identifying responsibility for policy action. While it suggests that legislative ambiguities are now mainly resolved with the use of ‘Sewel motions’, it highlights cases of Scottish action in reserved areas, including the example of smoking policy in which the Scottish Executive appears to ‘commandeer’ a previously reserved issue. However, most examples of new Scottish influence suggest the need for UK support or minimal UK interest.

A New Elite? Politicians and Civil Servants in Scotland after Devolution
Michael Keating and Paul Cairney
Parliamentary Affairs, 59, 1, 43-59
One aim of devolution in Scotland was to create a political class more representative of the country as a whole. In practice devolution has accelerated trends towards a professional background in Scottish representatives. There has been a significant increase in representativeness by gender; but not by social or occupational background. A professional Scottish political class is in the making. Devolution has not had a significant effect on the civil service in Scotland. Mobility between Edinburgh and London and between the public and private sectors was always low and Scottish civil servants tended to be less likely to gain a private or Oxbridge education. The Scottish Parliament gains in gender representation are not mirrored within the civil service.

The Impact of the Scottish Parliament in Amending Executive Legislation
Mark Shephard and Paul Cairney
Political Studies, 53, 2, 303-19, 2005
This paper provides the first systematic attempt to investigate the legislative impact of the
Scottish Parliament on Executive legislation, by analysing the fate of all amendments to Executive bills from the Parliament’s first session (1999–2003). Initial findings on the success of bill amendments show that the balance of power inclines strongly in favour of ministers. However, when we account for the type of amendment and initial authorship we find evidence that the Parliament (both coalition and opposition MSPs) actually makes more of an impact, particularly in terms of the level of success of substantive amendments to Executive bills. Our findings have implications for much of the current literature that is sceptical of the existence of power sharing between the Executive and the Parliament and within the Parliament.


Sewel Motions in the Scottish Parliament
Paul Cairney and Michael Keating
Scottish Affairs, 47, 115-34, 2004
One of the most controversial aspects of Scottish parliamentary procedure since devolution has been the use of Sewel motions, whereby the Scottish Parliament agrees to Westminster legislating in devolved matters. It was originally envisaged that this procedure would be exceptional, yet in the first session forty one were passed, provoking criticism that Holyrood was dodging its responsibility, becoming a ‘copycat Parliament’ and undermining the principles of devolution. Gerry Hassan (2002) makes much of the fact that the Scottish Parliament was passing almost as many Sewel motions as full Acts. The SNP have also been highly critical of the procedure on principle. They argue that more distinct Scottish solutions should be found for Scottish problems and that, even when Holyrood is adopting the same policy as Westminster, it should pass its own legislation . Academic commentators have criticized the procedure as weakening parliamentary scrutiny (Page 2002) and some lawyers and interest groups complain that the mixture of bits of Westminster and Holyrood legislation makes the statute book untidy and difficult to follow. Scottish ministers, on the other hand, have defended the practice, arguing that the opposition has exaggerated the problem and insisting on a pragmatic approach that saves parliamentary time by not duplicating legislation that is effectively identical on both sides of the border. Further, this debate shows no sign of abatement.

Consensual or Dominant Relationships with Parliament? A Comparison of Administrations and Ministers in Scotland
Mark Shephard and Paul Cairney
Public Administration, 82, 4, 831-56, 2004
The study of administrations and ministers and their relationships with UK Parliaments has tended to focus on the issues of accountability and responsibility, levels of legislative dissent or broad performance indicators supported by anecdotal examples. This paper addresses the lack of systematic analysis of executive/legislative relations in the policy-making process by examining the dominance of different administrations and ministers in the Scottish Parliament. Two questions are addressed. First, is there any variance in the legislative dominance of different administrations in the parliamentary arena? Second, do individual ministers make a difference to the degree of policy dominance? Controlling for both initial authorship and quality of amendments to Executive policy, we analyse the nature and extent of Executive dominance during the legislative process of the First Session of the Scottish Parliament. We find some evidence to suggest that Executive dominance varies both by administration and by individual minister.

Does Devolution Make a Difference? Legislative Output and Policy Divergence in Scotland
Michael Keating, Linda Stevenson, Paul Cairney and Kate Taylor
Journal of Legislative Studies, 9, 3, 110-39, 2003
Devolution provides large scope for Scotland to make its own policy. Primary legislation is one measure of this. Scottish legislation before devolution tended to replicate measures for the rest of the UK, with differences of style. Scottish legislation in the first four-year term of the Parliament shows a big increase in output. There is an autonomous sphere, in which Scotland has gone its own way without reference to the rest of the UK. In other areas, there is evidence of joint or parallel policy making, with Scottish legislation meeting the same goals by different means. Finally there is a sphere in which Scottish legislation is essentially the same as that in England and Wales. Sewel motions have not been used to impose policy uniformity on Scotland. There is evidence that devolution has shifted influence both vertically, between the UK and Scottish levels, and horizontally, within a Scottish legislative system that has been opened up.

New Public Management and the Thatcher Health Care Legacy
British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 4, 3, 375-98, 2002

See also:

Paul Cairney, Darren Halpin and Grant Jordan (2009) ‘New Scottish Parliament, Same Old Interest Group Politics?’ in C. Jeffery and J. Mitchell (eds.) The Scottish Parliament, 1999-2009: The First Decade (Edinburgh: Luath Press)
Michael Keating and Paul Cairney (2009) ‘The New Scottish Statute Book: The Scottish Parliament’s Legislative Record Since 1999’ in C. Jeffery and J. Mitchell (eds.) The Scottish Parliament, 1999-2009: The First Decade (Edinburgh: Luath Press)

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