Theories of the Policy Process: State of the Research and Emerging Trends


Matthew C. Nowlin is a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Oklahoma. His research interests include theories of the policy process, bureaucracy and politics, and linkages between public opinion and public policy. His substantive policy area interests include nuclear energy, spent nuclear fuel management, and global climate change.


Over the last two decades many alternate theories of the policy process have been developed. This essay covers recent scholarship (from 2008 to 2010) regarding the major policy process theories. In addition, several recent trends in research are discussed including; the use of narrative in policy theory, issues that cross multiple subsystems, bureaucracy in the policy process, and synthesizing multiple theories and frameworks.