A Model and Test of Policymaking as Process

  •  Catherine Oakley    
  •  George Pesta    
  •  Sabri Ciftci    
  •  Thomas Blomberg    


The prior policymaking literature has been largely theoretical and focused upon agenda setting and the initiation mechanisms of policy change, namely triggering events. Notably absent from the prior literature have been studies aimed at developing and empirically evaluating models of policymaking as a process with outcomes. Such a process/outcome model of policymaking would necessarily include initiation mechanisms, or triggering events, agenda setting, politics, and subsequent outcomes (intended vs. unintended). This paper applies such a process and outcome model through an evaluative case study of the tragic death of Martin Lee Anderson in a Florida juvenile boot camp. The death of Martin Lee Anderson in January, 2006 sparked a major debate and a series of subsequent policy initiatives in Florida related to juvenile boot camps, the treatment of juveniles in confinement, and overall accountability of the state’s juvenile justice system. Employing multiple data sources, the evaluation assesses the triggering events, subsequent processes, and resulting policy outcomes. The findings demonstrate that policymaking occurs in a sequential manner with identifiable stages. Different actors influence each stage of the process and help to shape the final policy outcomes. However, using the methods of in-depth interviews and participant observations revealed that outcomes are also shaped by various political negotiations which are not easily captured through conventional research and evaluation methods.

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