Conditions of Use
This textbook provides a thorough and detailed synthesis of the process of setting up policy analyses within complex, multi-actor systems. While it largely avoids discussion on the policy and economic concepts guiding the causal relationships at... read more
This textbook provides a thorough and detailed synthesis of the process of setting up policy analyses within complex, multi-actor systems. While it largely avoids discussion on the policy and economic concepts guiding the causal relationships at work in policy arenas and only provides cursory explanation of the major analytical methodologies that are used to conduct the analyses themselves it provides a highly comprehensive summary of the concepts it does address. Thus, while the content may not be sufficient to guide students through the completion of a policy analysis project from start to finish, as is required in many graduate-level policy analysis classes, this textbook provides students a rich understanding of the skills and steps necessary to appropriately conceptualize and frame such projects in complex environments. This book would serve well as either an undergraduate policy analysis text or a supplementary text for masters or PhD level policy analysis courses.
The content in this textbook is well-researched, described, and presented. It is accurate, free of obvious errors, and presented to students without bias. The authors have done an excellent job of collecting relevant materials, citing published research that effectively contributes to the concepts being discussed, and presenting their materials with accuracy.
The content of this textbook is highly relevant to the current context of policy analysis and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The major processes being discussed are unlikely to change drastically and will provide a consistent guide for future scholars to frame their work and while the list of methodologies that are used to conduct the analyses themselves continues to grow, they are described in a straightforward and modular format, making it easy for potential updates if the authors decide that discussion of newer methods should be added. Additionally, the examples used in the textbook are all highly relevant to the modern context, many of which have been updated quite recently and remain relevant and interesting to current students.
The text is concise, straight-forward, and well written. It is easy to read and understand and supplements the text with an appropriate number of figures and tables, facilitating understanding of the text without overcomplicating it.
The text is internally consistent throughout the entire textbook, further facilitating ease of use both in terms of reading and modular use.
While references to different sections in the book appear in the text, most of the book remains very modular. It is structured in a streamlined manner and organized such that chapters, as well as individual sections, can be selected out and used in isolation as assigned readings for a course. The final chapters focused on combining and synthesizing the subject matter discussed in earlier chapters are an exception to this rule as they are written as a culmination of the work presented earlier and would be confusing out of order. However, the early chapters presenting the processes for setting up an analysis project would be useful in other contexts.
The textbook is presented in a structured and orderly manner and flows quite naturally from one chapter to the next. If presented as a whole, the book flows in a straightforward manner towards the final chapters summarizing how previously discussed aspects of the policy analysis process can be integrated, reducing the modularity of later chapters but enhancing the overall structure of the text if taken as a whole.
The text is easy to read and understand in both digital and print formats; there are no glaring interface issues that would distract the reader.
The text is free of obvious spelling and grammar issues.
Many of the examples used in the textbook are tailored to a European, and more specifically a Dutch, perspective. While this does not distract from the conceptual content in the text, some of the examples may not be as relevant for students in other countries or regions. Obviously, the merits of this choice depend on where the text is being used as this would benefit students in the Netherlands while potentially lowering the interest of foreign students, but it may be important to note that the authors made the decision to sacrifice universality for specificity in the Dutch context.
In the second edition of Policy Analysis of Multi-Actor Systems Enserink et al. provide a well constructed synthesis of the process of setting up policy analyses within complex, interactive policy environments. The text can be useful in a wide variety of course settings focused on public policy, policy analysis, and approaching wicked problems either as a whole or broken into modular sections.
Table of Contents
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Problem Formulation in Complex Environments
- 3 Systems Analysis
- 4 Actor Analysis
- 5 Exploring the Future
- 6 From Synthesis to Plan of Action
- 7 The Research Plan
- 8 Preparing an Issue Paper
- About the Authors
About the Book
Policy of Multi-Actor Systems is an introduction into the art of craft of problem exploration and problem structuring. It positions policy analysis as a scientific discipline focused on systems analysis in a multi-actor context to support better informed decision-making. The approach presented in this book is considered to be the cornerstone of the curricula of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management of Delft University of Technology and underlies the research on (the governance of) socio-technical systems. Systems thinking applied in a multi-actor environment and its inherent multi-disciplinary character is what makes this work stand out from traditional hard- and soft systems approaches. The core of the book is dedicated to systems analysis, actor- or stakeholder-analysis and discusses methods for dealing with uncertainty. These analytical activities combined lead to a rich problem description and to plans for further research. Due to the stepwise approach this book serves as a basis for any problem analysis both for our bachelor and master students, our alumni worldwide and any interested practitioners.
About the Contributors
Ben Enserink is associate professor of policy analysis at Delft University of Technology. He is a specialist in action research, participatory methods, social learning and scenario analysis. Main fields of application are water management and energy transition. He has extensive international experience and teaches courses in policy analysis and intercultural communication.