Michael Mintrom

Monash University
Australia and New Zealand School of Government

Australia and New Zealand School of Government
PO Box 230, Carlton South
Melbourne, Victoria
m.mintrom@anzsog.edu.au |  Visit Personal Website

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Michael Mintrom's research explores elements of policy entrepreneurship and the diffusion of policy innovations. His studies have frequently been grounded in assessments of contemporary educational reforms. Michael has recently explored aspects of political leadership as they influence policy and organizational design. Approaches to undertaking policy analysis are another theme in Michael's work. He intends to keep working over the coming years on documenting effective approaches to undertaking contemporary policy analysis. His most recent book is Public Policy: Investing for a Better World (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018). This book consistently applies an investment approach to understanding and evaluating public policy choices across 8 areas of public policy: infrastructure, defence and homeland security, public schooling, health care, poverty alleviation, criminal justice, science funding, and environmental protection.

Michael Mintrom and Joannah Luetjens. (2017). “Policy Entrepreneurs and Foreign Policy Decision Making.” In The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Foreign Policy Analysis Eds. Patrick Haney, Sebastian Harnish, Juliet Kaarbo, Kai Oppermann, and Atsushi Tago. New York: Oxford University Press.
Abstract: In recent years, significant effort has been applied to understanding and empirically testing the concept of policy entrepreneurship in a range of different settings. Despite these efforts, studies to date have tended to focus on policy entrepreneurs in domestic policy settings. Few have articulated the potential role that policy entrepreneurs play in understanding foreign policy decision-making. Coupled with theories and evidence from the field of foreign policy analysis, the concept of policy entrepreneurship lends itself to analysing how actors in the foreign policy space draw attention to problems, advance workable proposals, and link outcome to symbolic values. This article introduces and applies a framework for the analysis of policy entrepreneurs seeking to influence foreign policy decision-making. This framework is then used to underpin illustrative case studies of foreign policy entrepreneurs. The variety of recent scholarly contributions regarding policy entrepreneurs and foreign policy suggests that many more opportunities exist for such work to be conducted in the future. This is an exciting prospect. Valuable, generalizable insights are more likely to emerge from such a collective research enterprise if the various individual contributions are informed by greater conceptual coherence.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.013.463
Michael Mintrom and Joannah Luetjens. (2017) “Policy Entrepreneurs and Problem Framing: The Case of Climate Change.” Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space.
Abstract: Policy entrepreneurs are energetic actors who work with others in and around policymaking venues to promote significant policy change. After several decades of study, we know a lot about what policy entrepreneurs do, and how to assess their effectiveness in given policymaking contexts. Here, we review common practices of policy entrepreneurs, emphasising their problem framing activities and their role in catalysing large-scale behavioural change related to climate change. We then review what policy entrepreneurs operating in various locations and at different levels of government have begun doing to tackle the climate change challenge. Like others, we contend that policy entrepreneurs will play a vital role in future efforts to address climate change. We conclude by discussing opportunities for new research on policy entrepreneurship, policymaking processes, and diffusion of policy innovations relating to climate change.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/2399654417708440
Mintrom, Michael, and Joannah Luetjens. (2017). “Creating Public Value: Tightening Connections Between Policy Design and Public Management.” Policy Studies Journal 45 (1): 170–190.
Abstract: Policy design and public management should be tightly connected, so implemented public policies achieve intended outcomes. Yet policy designers often pursue their activities with limited awareness of how citizens and service managers experience current public programs. A focus on creating public value offers a way to tighten the connection between policy design and public management. Recent discussions of public value have emphasised three aspects of public management: delivering services, achieving social outcomes, and maintaining trust and legitimacy. Within those discussions, the efforts of policy designers have been underplayed. We explore the implications of the public value approach for policy design. Pursuit of public value calls for policy designers to listen closely to stakeholders, engage them in creative conversations, and draw on their situated expertise to guide policy development. We consider how explicit treatment of public value creation as a policy goal can improve the fit between original policy intentions and the delivery of public services. Our augmented model of public value creation offers both a new direction of empirical studies of the nexus between public policy and public management and a new perspective on what it means to be an effective policy designer.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/psj.12116
Michael Mintrom and Joannah Luetjens. (2017) “The Investment Approach to Public Service Provision.” Australian Journal of Public Administration. 76
Abstract: The investment approach to public service provision is now receiving considerable attention worldwide. By promoting data-intensive assessments of baseline conditions and how government action can improve on them, the approach holds the potential to transform policy development, service implementation, and program evaluation. Recently, variations on the investment approach have been applied in Australia to explore the effectiveness of specific programs in employment training, criminal justice, and infrastructure development. This article reviews the investment approach, present a Public Investment Checklist to guide such work, and discusses three examples. It concludes by considering the implications of investment thinking for the work of policy designers and public managers.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8500.12250
Andrew Gunn and Michael Mintrom. (2017) “Evaluating the Non-Academic Impact of Academic Research: Design Considerations." Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 39 (1): 20-30.
Abstract: Evaluation of academic research plays a significant role in government efforts to steer public universities. The scope of such evaluation is now being extended to include the ‘relevance’ or ‘impact’ of academic research outside the academy. We address how evaluation of non-academic research impact can promote more such impact without undermining academic freedom and research excellence. Five questions on evaluation design are considered: (1) What should be the object of measurement? (2) What should be the timeframe? (3) How should non-academic users of research inform evaluation processes? (4) How should controversial impacts be managed? (5) When in funding cycles should impact evaluation occur? We conclude the non-academic impact should be selectively promoted and evaluated. This is how greater gains from research might be best captured without imposing misguided and onerous reporting requirements on individuals and institutions.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1360080X.2016.1254429
Andrew Gunn and Michael Mintrom (2016) “Higher Education Policy Change in Europe: Academic Research Funding and the Impact Agenda.” European Education: Issues and Studies. 48 (4): 241-257.
Abstract: In the policy period following the Lisbon Strategy of 2000, European governments increasingly regard universities, and the research they produce, as key to enhancing economic performance. With this heightened respect for the value of university-based research, comes an impatience to see returns on the public investments made. We analyse how policy is being used to influence the academic research process through the evaluations and funding allocation that accompany public funding. This paper features examples from the European Union and recent policy developments in two nation states to investigate how policy seeks to enhance the non-academic impacts of academic research.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10564934.2016.1237703
Michael Mintrom and Joannah Luetjens. (2016). “Design Thinking in Policymaking Processes: Opportunities and Challenges.” Australian Journal of Public Administration. 75 (3): 391-402.
Abstract: Design thinking has the potential to improve problem definition and mechanism design in policymaking processes. By promoting greater understanding of how citizens experience government services, design thinking can support public managers who desire to enhance public value. In Australia, as elsewhere, design thinking currently remains separated from mainstream policymaking efforts. This article clarifies the essence of design thinking and its applicability to policy development. Five design thinking strategies are discussed, all of which have lengthy histories as social science methodologies. They are (1) environmental scanning, (2) participant observation, (3) open-to-learning conversations, (4) mapping, and (5) sensemaking. Recent examples from Australia and New Zealand are used to illustrate how these strategies have been incorporated into policymaking efforts. The article concludes by considering how design thinking might be more broadly applied in policymaking, and the training and resourcing requirements that would entail.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8500.12211
Michael Mintrom. 2012. Contemporary Policy Analysis (New York: Oxford University Press).
Abstract: A groundbreaking interpretation of the field, Contemporary Policy Analysis offers a state-of-the art look at what policy analysts do and how they can make the world a better place. The book is an indispensable resource for experienced policy analysts and an ideal core text for upper-level undergraduate and first-year graduate courses in policy analysis. Contemporary Policy Analysis works from a project orientation, providing a thorough and nontechnical overview of the key concepts and analytical strategies employed by policy analysts. Opening with coverage of what policy analysts do, what governments do, and government policy objectives, the first section of the book then discusses how to manage policy projects, present policy advice, and perform ethical policy analysis. The second section presents a set of core analytical strategies, featuring chapters on the analysis of markets, market failure, government failure, comparative institutional analysis, cost-benefit analysis, implementation analysis, and--unique to this survey--gender analysis and race analysis. Each of these strategy chapters includes a step-by-step guide to performing the analysis, incorporating an example from the policy literature that follows the steps and shows how the strategy can illuminate current policy issues. In addition, the chapters are enhanced by exercises and suggestions for class projects and policy research seminars.
URL: http://www.amazon.com/Contemporary-Policy-Analysis-Michael-Mintrom/dp/0199730962/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415429201&sr=8-1&keywords=mintrom+contemporary
Michael Mintrom. 2014. “Creating Cultures of Excellence: Strategies and Outcomes.” Cogent Education 1 (1):1-15.
Abstract: Research findings on effective support for learning, the development of expertise, and the psychology of success suggest that the pursuit of excellence is teachable. Within the emerging field of research and practice termed “the scholarship of teaching and learning,” considerable effort has been made to document the practices of teachers who, by various measures, have been deemed excellent. In contrast, no effort has been made to codify how students can be trained to self-consciously build behaviors that generate excellent outcomes. This article reports on a multi-year effort to create cultures of excellence among cohorts of graduate students. A statistical analysis of subsequent student performance on a significant, related task indicates that explicitly promoting a culture of excellence among course participants can have a positive and sustained impact on their individual practices. Comments from subsequent student reflections further support this claim. The teaching strategies reported here could be refined, replicated, and reinvented to good effect across higher education. They are also of special relevance to those delivering professional development training to early- and mid-career professionals.
DOI: 10.1080/2331186X.2014.934084#.VFy0-DSUfng
Michael Mintrom, Chris Salisbury, and Joannah Luetjens. 2014. “Policy Entrepreneurs and the Promotion of Australian State Knowledge Economies.” Australian Journal of Political Science 49 (3):423-438.
Abstract: Policy entrepreneurs seek to shift the status quo in given areas of public policy. In doing so, they work closely with others, and their activities call for high levels of political skill. This article examines the actions of policy entrepreneurs who promoted the development of knowledge economies in two Australian states: Queensland and Victoria. During the past two decades, national and sub-national governments around the world have sought to nurture knowledge economies within their borders. Our analysis of knowledge economy advocacy improves understanding of how specific individuals – as strategic team builders – can promote major policy change. This focus on team work and coalition-building as central elements of the process of policy entrepreneurship offers a corrective to some earlier studies that inappropriately conferred lone hero status to policy entrepreneurs.
DOI: 10.1080/10361146.2014.934657
Michael Mintrom. 2013. “Policy Entrepreneurs and Controversial Science: Governing Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research.” Journal of European Public Policy 20:442-457.
Abstract: Policy entrepreneurs are political actors who seek policy changes that shift the status quo in given areas of public policy. This contribution examines the actions of policy entrepreneurs who have sought government funding and favourable regulation to advance human embryonic stem cell research. Those policy entrepreneurs have faced significant opposition owing to the morality issues at stake. Placing the actions of those policy entrepreneurs in a broader context makes two contributions. First, it explores how policy entrepreneurs pursue their goals in the face of intense morality politics. Second, it illustrates how the work of policy entrepreneurs can be both supported and inhibited by ideas, institutions and interest-group politics.
DOI: 10.1080/13501763.2012.761514
Andrew Gunn and Michael Mintrom. 2013. “Global University Alliances and the Creation of Collaborative Advantage.” Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management 35:179-192.
Abstract: The past two decades have seen the development of many global university alliances. Some alliances have taken a bilateral form, others are multilateral. In a period of increasing competition among universities, such alliances represent a curious form of cooperation. They have become more common just as global competition for academic talent has been increasing, rankings of universities have become more sophisticated, and universities have sought to attract high fee-paying international students. When does cooperation make sense? What opportunities and risks do alliances present to their members? These questions are considered with reference to three global alliances: The Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), Universitas 21 (U21), and the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN). We conclude that multilateral, global university alliances represent valuable resources for ambitious, change-oriented university leaders.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1360080X.2013.775926
Michael Mintrom, 2009. "Competitive Federalism and the Governance of Controversial Science." Publius: The Journal of Federalism 39: 606-631.
Abstract: Tensions between the United States government and state governments increased during the Bush Administration, 2001–2008. Blame was typically placed on the Administration's conservative policy preferences. This article analyzes how the issue of stem cell research was managed during those years in Washington, DC and how the states responded. The case highlights contradictions in the Bush Administration's brand of conservatism, how this promoted interstate competition, and why state governments had to wrestle with major policy dilemmas. Concerns surrounding moral principles, scientific progress, and economic competitiveness produced a patchwork of state funding and regulatory regimes. That outcome has not been ideal from several perspectives. Advances in biotechnology and other controversial areas of science will force future national and state governments to confront similar policymaking challenges.
DOI: 10.1093/publius/pjn033
Michael Mintrom. 2009. "Universities in the Knowledge Economy: A Comparative Analysis of Nested Institutions." Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis 11: 327-353.
Abstract: Knowledge generation can catalyze local, regional, and national economic development. In the globalizing economy, governments are increasingly treating universities as strategic resources, and changing their policies towards them accordingly. In this article, universities are portrayed as organizations nested within broader institutional structures. A comparative analysis of nested institutions is presented. Changes in the ideas and actions of stakeholders concerning the role of universities are compared across five countries - the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. The focus is placed on universities operating in an economically dynamic sub-region in each country. Attention is given to how different levels of government promote or inhibit innovative actions by universities and the organizations they partner with to commercialize research. Efforts to create regional knowledge economies effectively linked to the global marketplace are shown to have generated a range of tensions and dilemmas. Themes highlighted in this study are expected to emerge in discussions everywhere concerning the evolving role of universities in society.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13876980903221072
Michael Mintrom and Phillipa Norman. 2009. "Policy Entrepreneurship and Policy Change." Policy Studies Journal 37:649-667.
Abstract: This article reviews the concept of policy entrepreneurship and its use in explaining policy change. Although the activities of policy entrepreneurs have received close attention in several studies, the concept of policy entrepreneurship is yet to be broadly integrated within analyses of policy change. To facilitate more integration of the concept, we here show how policy entrepreneurship can be understood within more encompassing theorizations of policy change: incrementalism, policy streams, institutionalism, punctuated equilibrium, and advocacy coalitions. Recent applications of policy entrepreneurship as a key explanation of policy change are presented as models for future work. Room exists for further conceptual development and empirical testing concerning policy entrepreneurship. Such work could be undertaken in studies of contemporary and historical policy change.
URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1541-0072.2009.00329.x/abstract

Substantive Focus:
Education Policy SECONDARY
Science and Technology Policy
Comparative Public Policy PRIMARY

Theoretical Focus:
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation PRIMARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation SECONDARY