Policy Networks: Policy Change and Causal Factors, A Uranium Mining Case Study

Muldoon, Joseph Anthony
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Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Regina
Policy networks have been studied for decades with the intent of understanding the interrelationships between policy actors, the policy regimes within which they are found and the exogenous and endogenous events that can impact policy making and change. Policy network theory has developed established relationships that can be used for policy research into the mechanisms that drive policy change. Howlett (2002, 2009) and Howlett and Cashore (2007) have developed analytical tools that form a model which first organizes policies into two broad categories –firstly, the components of the policy associated with its overall aims or policy goals; and secondly, the instruments or means required to deliver the policy. These two broad categories are separated into three sub-categories of: firstly, policy aims or instrument preference; secondly, policy objectives or specific policy tool, and thirdly, a specific on-the-ground target or policy tool setting (calibration). This policy categorization results in six component categories. Secondly, the model can distinguish policy network type by examining the relationships between actors and ideas that move within a policy network and thirdly, determines the pace, direction and type of policy change. When this model is applied to a policy sector that can be studied over a long period of time, causal relationships between policy actors, ideas, network type and policy outputs can be determined. The identification and analysis of these causal relationships will demonstrate the value of policy networks and their important role in the study of policy systems and change. A case study covering six decades (1942-2007) of evolving Saskatchewan uranium mine policy will be presented. There has been a rekindled global interest in nuclear power which includes the uranium mining policy sector. New uranium mine exploration is continuing at a high rate in northern Saskatchewan driven by expected high future demands for uranium. Saskatchewan is currently the second largest producer of uranium in the world. Understanding the complex relationships involved in this policy sector can result in better policy decision making processes and societal outcomes. The key research questions associated with this case study are: What kind of policy networks were in place? What types of changes took place and what were the drivers of change? What are the causal factors related to policy actors, their regimes and policy instruments? Were the changes sustainable and why or why not? What were the successes and failures of the policy initiatives and reasons? How effective are the analytical tools that were used? Answering these questions will provide another source of data and analysis to policy network study and provide some potential tools for policy practitioners to improve policy derivation within their fields of practice.
A Thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Special Case Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy, University of Regina. viii, 264 p.