Explaining Policy Punctuations: Bureaucratization and Budget Change


  • The authors would like to thank the participants in panel sessions at the 2004 annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association and the 2004 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association.

Scott E. Robinson is assistant professor of political science and public affairs, School of Social Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, P.O. Box 830688, Richardson, TX 75083-0688 (Scott.Robinson@utdallas.edu). Floun'say Caver is manager of budgets, Greater Cleveland RTA, Office of Management and Budget, 1240 West 6th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113 (fcaver@gcrta.org). Kenneth J. Meier is the Charles H. Gregory Chair of Liberal Arts and professor of political science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843. He is professor of public management, Cardiff University (kmeier@polisci.tamu.edu). Laurence J. O'Toole, Jr., is the Margaret Hughes and Robert T. Golembiewski Professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy, Baldwin Hall 204D, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30603-1615 (cmsotool@uga.edu).


Recent policy research has turned from the testing of static, cross-sectional theories to time-serial analyses of dynamic processes. This attention has renewed interest in the debate over incrementalism in policy development. Recent efforts have suggested that policy histories involve a series of short periods of instability followed by extended periods of stability. These theories are collectively known as punctuated equilibrium theories of policy. Efforts to test these models of policy have been limited to descriptive analyses of samples of policy budgets or univariate hypothesis testing. This article presents a strategy for multivariate hypothesis testing of punctuated equilibrium models based on the foundations of punctuated equilibrium theory. The strategy is illustrated with a test of the effects of organization size and centralization on the budgetary process.