Steven Tepper, Setting Agendas and Designing Alternatives: Policymaking and the Strategic Role of Meetings, Review of Policy Research
This paper investigates the role of strategic forums—such as special commissions, task forces, roundtables,working groups, summits—in the policy process. Reviewing prominent theories about policymaking, the author suggests ways in which strategic forums might fit within these frameworks as an analytically distinct policy lever. The paper examines existing literature on such forums, and identifies characteristics of “meetings that matter”—those gatherings that appear to have achieved some policy traction in a given domain. Finally, the paper investigates a particular field, cultural policy, to evaluate the extent to which meetings are serving policy purposes.
The author concludes that meetings can serve an important role in the policy process by framing public problems and highlighting policy alternatives; creating and sustaining policy communities; fostering policy transfer and knowledge uptake; and developing networks among policy entrepreneurs. Nonetheless, with regard to cultural policy, the author argues that, compared to other policy domains, strategic policy-focused convenings are not a regular part of the arts and culture landscape and remain underused policy tools.
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