The public policy working group deals with research concerning a broad range of theories, concepts and methods in public policy analysis and policy studies, but regularly sets focal points on very specific policy issues, empirical fields, and methodological developments.
For instance, the group is very much involved in cutting edge research about policy process theories and the understanding and explanation of policy change. It further treats the issue of interests groups and their means on how to access and impact decision-making. Besides acknowledging the crucial role of actors, their ideologies, strategies, resources and interactions, also institutions and broader (administrative) arrangements are said to play an important role when designing and implementing policies, setting policy goals and introducing a variety of instruments and measures. The creation of new such arrangements (e.g. involvement of regulatory agencies in policy implementation and evaluation), alternative jurisdictions (e.g. functional spaces in water or resource management), and innovative venues (e.g. platforms and roundtables) are just some examples of conceptual developments the group is contributing to.
Empirically, the group is open to a variety of fields, subsystems and issues. Different workshops and specialized seminars dealt for instance with issues such as market liberalization, environmental and climate policy, the regulation of hydraulic fracturing, or the design of policies within water catchment areas.
Different quantitative and qualitative methods, mostly in a mixed-methods design, are applied in the field of public policy analysis. The group has a particular specialization in social network analysis (SNA) and qualitative comparative analysis (QCA).