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A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis
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A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis
The Eightfold Path to More Effective Problem Solving

Seventh Edition


September 2023 | 232 pages | CQ Press
Drawing on more than 40 years of experience with policy analysis, best-selling authors Eugene Bardach and Eric M. Patashnik use practical tips and real-world examples to equip effective, accurate, and persuasive policy analysts. The Seventh Edition of A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis offers new case studies, expanded discussion, new guidance for policy analysis in a polarized age, and step-by-step strategies for the budding analyst as well as the seasoned professional.

 
PART I THE EIGHTFOLD PATH
 
PART II ASSEMBLING EVIDENCE
 
PART III HANDLING A DESIGN PROBLEM
 
PART IV “SMART (BEST) PRACTICES” RESEARCH: UNDERSTANDING AND MAKING USE OF WHAT LOOK LIKE GOOD IDEAS FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE
 
APPENDIX A SPECIMEN OF A REAL-WORLD POLICY ANALYSIS
 
APPENDIX B THINGS GOVERNMENTS DO
 
APPENDIX C UNDERSTANDING PUBLIC AND NONPROFIT INSTITUTIONS: ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
 
APPENDIX D TIPS FOR DOING POLICY ANALYSIS IN A POLARIZED AGE
 
APPENDIX E TIPS FOR WORKING WITH CLIENTS
 
APPENDIX F SUGGESTIONS FOR INCORPORATING “BIG DATA” AND RIGOROUS SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE INTO POLICY ANALYSIS

This is an excellent introductory text. It is accessible enough to use with my undergraduate students, but rigorous enough for graduate students. It does an excellent job walking students through the weeds of policy analysis. It is a good match for my course because it is able to teach students some of the practical challenges of policy analysis in a way that nicely complements the more theoretical approach of the rest of my course.

Peter Johannessen
University of Virginia
Review

This is by far the best book of its kind. I have used it in my graduate courses on policy analysis for years. I will certainly continue to
use it. It provides a great mix of practical advice on top of a solid academic foundation and explains to students how to conduct a professional policy analysis in a step-by-step way.

Michael Mumper
Adams State University
Review

“Bardach and Patashnik provide a strong analytical framework to guide the novice student in exploring policy options. The text is substantive yet approachable, providing a bridge between theory and practice that is meaningful for both undergraduate and graduate students of public policy.”

Kimberly Ratcliff
Ohio State University, John Glenn College of Public Affairs

"Professors Bardach and Patashnik's "Eightfold Path" provides a wise and engaging how-to guide that meets the central challenge of policy analysis: combining scientific evidence and social goals to craft practical, real-world solutions."

Thomas S. Dee
Stanford University

“Bardach and Patashnik’s  A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis has become a genuine classic of policy analysis because it offers a versatile framework for confronting policy issues of all types—from persistent, long-standing problems to new, emergent challenges. Like every classic work, it contains different layers of insight for different readers. Junior analysts can use the eight basic elements as a primer. Intermediate analysts can add the design principles. Experienced analysts can deepen their practice by applying the eightfold path to increasingly complex problems. I wouldn’t think of teaching policy analysis at any level without this elegant guide to our craft.”

Karen Baehler
School of Public Affairs, American University

"This book remains the gold standard for introducing students to key issues in policy analysis. I have used it many times in teaching Policy Analysis courses for both students and practicing policy analysts. The new edition adds a lot of helpful new material (e.g., discussions of Big Data) that will be helpful to students struggling to think systematically about how to assess policy alternatives. Other books cover economic and technical analytical skills that are essential to policy analysis, but no other source covers the process of policy analysis with the depth, insight and wisdom of Bardach and Patashnik."

R. Kent Weaver, Distinguished Professor of Public Policy
Georgetown University

A Practical Guide for Policy Analysis is the essential text to introduce health policy students to the practice of policy analysis. The authors offer a persuasive argument for why defining the problem is the fundamental yet challenging first step of policy analysis; this lesson is critical for health policy, where issue rhetoric abounds. The book offers a step-by-step methodology that appeals to students’ need for structure, while reminding readers that the process of policy analysis—and politics—is inherently complex and non-linear. Students who master the book’s core lessons will learn to embrace an iterative mode of thinking and a storytelling mode of writing, skills that will serve policy professionals and policy researchers well throughout their careers.”

Sarah Gollust
Associate Professor, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota
Key features

NEW TO THIS EDITION:  

  • A new appendix that features timely "Tips for Doing Policy Analysis in a Polarized Age."
  • A new appendix with an example of a real-world policy analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, annotated with key insights.
  • Expanded discussion of the steps of the policy process, including "last mile problems" around making policies work after their enactment.
  • New case studies in Part I.


KEY FEATURES:  

  • The Eightfold Path guides readers through the problem-solving process by reminding them to:    
    • Define the Problem   
    • Assemble Some Evidence     
    • Construct the Alternatives    
    • Select the Criteria     
    • Project the Outcomes    
    • Confront the Trade-Offs     
    • Stop, Focus, Narrow, Deepen, Decide! 
    • Tell Your Story
  • Dozens of tips for assembling evidence provide readers with insights on how he/she can save time by gathering and interpreting data more efficiently.
  • Strategies for analyzing design problems guide readers through specific steps that can be taken to design “systems of action” that will generate desired outcomes when multiple elements are interdependent and need to work together.“
  • Multiple appendices offer tips for policy analysts on important developments.

Sage College Publishing

You can purchase this book and request an instructor sample on our US College site:

Go To College Site