Being able to do policy analysis is the essential professional capability of the policy analyst. What is the best way to learn how to do policy analysis? Vining and Weimer describe a tool that they find to be effective in teaching—what they call the policy analysis “case,” or the “P-case.” The P-case differs considerably from the commonly used “Harvard style” management cases that describe a specific policy problem and context in an extensive narrative form. The version of the P-case described here has three major elements: (1) a specific problem statement; (2) an explicit policy analysis framework; and (3) a bibliography customized to the specific policy problem.
Vining and Weimer see the P-case as providing an important apprenticeship experience, bridging the gap between novice learning in the classroom and journeyman learning in the field. Most aspects of novice learning develop foundational skills and concepts in a low-risk environment. In the policy market, journeyman learning develops integrative skills through client-oriented projects in high-risk environments. The P-case simulates important aspects of the journeyman experience within the classroom, but without the risk associated with completing projects for actual clients.
Keywordscase method policy analysis professional craft public management
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