Institutions and Public Policy Processes

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveNA4

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr. Nandini Nayak

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: Completion of Semester 1, 2, 3.


The focus of this course will be to equip students to critically analyse the politics of policy formulation and implementation.

Students of this course will discuss how the structures and dynamics of government work to create and implement policies. Particular attention will be paid to literature on the nature of the state and the market in this context.

How do policies make a difference in the standard of living of the poor? Who are the haves and the ‘have nots’? Does politics matter in the process of policy implementation? The answer to these questions will be discussed in this Public Policy course.

Key Learning Objectives

  • To discuss the political economy of policy-making.
  • To discuss the major stages in the policy making process.
  • To analyze the role of actors in the policy process.
  • To evaluate how the ideal policy process differs from reality.

Brief description of key modules:

Module 1: An introduction to institutional analysis: Old institutionalists v. New Institutionalists; Interdisciplinary approaches promoted by institutionalists for the study of policy.

Module 2: Revisiting the ‘State v Market’ debate for the purpose of policy analysis: How should the ‘state’ and the ‘market’ be viewed in the relation to the project of ‘development’? What are the implications this has for the analysis of public policy?

Module 3: Models of policy analysis: This module will look at some key concepts and theories related to public policy analysis and the policy making process.

Module 4: Political Actors in the policy process: Role of the ‘state’, bureaucrats and politicians; the role of civil society in the policy making process; Who is involved in the policy-making process? and what is the nature of policy implementation?

Assessment Details with weights: Two ‘Response Notes’, written in class – 30% weightage each; and one Term Paper, 40% weightage.

Reading List: (See below for indicative readings, in alphabetical order; a detailed reading list will be provided in class):

  • Colebatch, K.. (2006). What work makes policy? Policy Sciences. 39.
  • Ekelund, R. & Hebert, R. (1997). A History of Economic Theory and Method. New York: McGraw-Hill. – Chapter 16 – ‘Thorstein Veblen and American Institutional Economics’
  • Hall, P. & Taylor, R. (1996), Political Science and the Three Institutionalisms, Political Studies, XLIV, 936-957.
  • Harriss, J. (2000) How Much Difference Does Politics Make? Regime Differences Across Indian States and Rural Poverty Reduction, LSE Destin Working Paper Series No. 00–01, London School of Economics.
  • Kabeer, N. & Subrahmanian, R. (eds.), (1999) Institutions, Relations and Outcomes: A Framework and Case Studies for Gender Aware Planning. New Delhi: Kali for Women.
  • Kohli, A. (1987) The State and Poverty in India. The Politics of Reform, Cambridge University Press.
  • Nayak, P. (1996). The State and the Market. Economic and Political Weekly. 31(4).
  • Sabatier, P. (1991). Toward Better Theories of the Policy Process. Political Science and Politics. 24(2).
  • Sen, A. (2001). Markets, State and Social Opportunity, in Development as Freedom, Ch 5.
  • Wedel, J., Shore, C., Feldman, G. & Lathrop, S. (2005). Toward an Anthropology of Public Policy. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 600.