Peter J. May

University of Washington
Political Science

Campus Box 353530
101 Gowen Hall
Seattle, WA
98195-3530 |  Visit Personal Website

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May's research addresses policy processes, environmental regulation, and policymaking for natural hazards and disasters. His research about policy processes concerns policy design and implementation, the coherence of policies, policy learning, and policy regimes. His current research addresses the governing role of policies and the role of policy regimes as a lens for understanding policy implementation.

May, Peter J. 2015. "Implementation Failures: Policy Regime Perspectives." Public Policy and Administration 30 (3-4): 277-299.
Abstract: The cataloging of failures when putting policies in place has been the hallmark of implementation studies since the 1970s. The numerous lessons from this research can be distilled into guidance about improving policy design to enhance implementation prospects and other suggestions for overcoming administrative obstacles. This contribution extends these lessons by addressing how the governing arrangements for addressing policy problems—the policy regimes that are put in place—either work to reinforce or undermine political commitments enshrined within policies. Regimes mediate feedback effects of policies in affecting policy legitimacy, coherence, and durability. These notions about policy regimes are contrasted with traditional perspectives about implementation failures. The value of a regime perspective in studying policy implementation is illustrated for the case of the Affordable Care Act in the United States.
May, Peter J., Chris Koski, and Nicholas Stramp. 2014. "Issue Expertise in Policymaking." Journal of Public Policy.
Abstract: In considering issue expertise in policymaking, we unpack differences in the supply and types of expertise with attention to the presumed privileged role of the bureaucracy. Our empirical investigation is based on witness testimonies of congressional hearings for a policy area involving various forms of expertise – critical infrastructure protection policymaking. Three sets of findings stand out. One set substantiates the role of the bureaucracy as an important information conduit while also showing it is not a primary source of issue expertise. A second set shows how differences in issue maturity and salience affect the demand for and supply of expertise. A third set illustrates the influence of a small cadre of hyper-expertise in drawing attention to problems and solutions across different venues. These findings challenge the conventional view of the bureaucracy in policymaking while expanding the understanding of different sources of information and types of issue expertise in policymaking.
DOI: 10.1017/S0143814X14000233
May, Peter J. and Ashley E. Jochim. 2013. "Policy Regime Perspectives: Policies, Politics, and Governing" Policy Studies Journal 41 (3): 426-452.
Abstract: We call on policy scholars to take seriously the role of policies as governing instruments and to consider more fully the factors that shape their political impacts. We suggest that the lens provided by regime perspectives is a useful way for advancing the understanding of these considerations. As a descriptive undertaking, the regime lens can be used to construct a conceptual map that considers the constellation of ideas, institutional arrangements, and interests that are involved in addressing policy problems. As an analytic lens, regime perspectives can be used to understand how and with what effect policies set in place feedback processes that shape policy legitimacy, coherence, and durability. Together, these provide new insights into policy implementation and the interplay of policy and politics in governing. Regime perspectives provide avenues for asking and answering the “big questions” about the quality of governing arrangements and the sustainability of policies that were important considerations for the development of the field of policy studies in the 1960s, but have since waned as foci for policy scholarship.
May, Peter J., Ashley E. Jochim, and Josh Sapotichne. 2011. "Constructing Homeland Security: An Anemic Regime.” Policy Studies Journal 39 (2): 285-307.
Jochim, Ashley E., and Peter J. May. 2010. "Beyond Subsystems: Policy Regimes and Governance." Policy Studies Journal 38 (2): 303-327.

Substantive Focus:
Environmental Policy PRIMARY
Defense and Security SECONDARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Process Theory PRIMARY
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation SECONDARY