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Course 2018-2019 a.y.

20545 - PUBLIC POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION & HISTORY OF ECONOMIC THOUGHT

DES-ESS
Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English


Go to class group/s: 31

DES-ESS (6 credits - II sem. - OP  |  SECS-P/07)
Course Director:
GIOVANNI FATTORE

Classes: 31 (II sem.)
Instructors:
Class 31: AMELIA COMPAGNI


Prerequisites

Module I (History of Economic Thought): no prior knowledge is required. However, to take full advantage of the references that are made to current economic theory, it is useful to have taken a basic course in the principles of economics. Module II (Public Policy and Administration): none.


Mission & Content Summary
MISSION

Module I (History of Economic Thought): this module aims at putting economic theory in historical perspective, by showing the variety of conceptual and interpretative frameworks through which major authors have approached basic economic issues: the functioning of the market, its liaison dangereuse with the State, the distinctive features of the capitalist system, the obstinate recurrence of crises, the conflictual relationship between enterprise and labor, the elusive bond between finance and business. Module II (Public Policy and Administration): while most countries are progressively embracing the liberal democratic model, the way their states and public administration are organized and their policies emerge and evolve may vary importantly. This, we know, might make the difference for how citizens are governed and for the quality of the public services they receive. The module “Public Policy and Administration” aims at familiarizing students with the repertoire of current models for organizing the state and for understanding the process of policy-making.

CONTENT SUMMARY

Module I (History of Economic Thought): the course builds on a direct confrontation with selected texts of major economists, with the purpose of highlighting the explicit and implicit assumptions characterizing their peculiar approach. Preliminary reading of the texts and active discussion in class is strongly encouraged. The attention is necessarily focused on a limited number of authors, whose contributions represent significant turning points in the history of economic ideas.

  • Adam Smith, the theory of moral sentiments and the wealth of nations.
  • David Ricardo, the principles of political economy.
  • Thomas Robert Malthus, the paradox of thrift and the crisis of overproduction.
  • Karl Marx, the intrinsically revolutionary character of capital accumulation.
  • John Maynard Keynes, poverty in plenty and the need for monetary reform.
  • Friedrich August von Hayek, the road to serfdom and the denationalization of money.

Module II (Public Policy and Administration): the course is organised in two parts:

  1. The first part discusses how different disciplines and theoretical perspectives have conceptualized the state and the instruments for organizing it in order to make it work for the collective good.
  2. In the second part, the course deals with one of the main functions of the state: the generation of public policies (i.e., policy-making). The lectures explore how we understand the processes of decision-making and of public policies’ creation. It draws from models of bounded rationality and incrementalism, reaching out to the most recent developments in behavioural public policy, informed by studies in psychology. Finally the module considers how public policies are thought.  The course covers the following topics:
    1. Part I Four models of the State:
      • The hierarchist model (the Chinese modern State, theories of bureaucracy).
      • The individualist model (economic theories of the State, competition and incentive systems).
      • The egalitarian model (communitarianism, citizen engagement and participatory democracy).
      • The fatalist model (complexity theory, policy experimentalism).
      • Governing beyond government: governance and Foucault’s governmentality.
    2. Part II The State as policy-making:
      • Decision-making and the role of rationality (H. Simon’s bounded rationality and satisficing)Cognitive biases, prospect theory and nudging (trends and applications).
      • The garbage can model and Kingdon’s multiple stream framework of policy-making.
      • The evolution of public policies in the long-run (punctuate equilibrium and advocacy coalition frameworks).

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
At the end of the course student will be able to...

Module I (History of Economic Thought): at the end of the course students will be able to:

  • Define basic economic concepts (such as value, wealth, capital, money) in the light of the writings of major authors.
  • Identify the assumptions on which certain theories or arguments are based.
  • Recognize the paternity of received economic concepts and ideas.
  • Illustrate the line of reasoning through which given authors reach their conclusions.

Module II (Public Policy and Administration). after successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify the main models for organizing the state and the correspondent instruments.
  • Identify the main factors determining the policy-making process and the evolution of public policies in the long-run.
  • Discuss the main theoretical foundations underlying models of the state and of the policy-making process.
APPLYING KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING
At the end of the course student will be able to...

Module I (History of Economic Thought): at the end of the course students will be able to:

  • Interpret original writings of classical economists.
  • Compare the position of different authors on fundamental issues.
  • Connect economic arguments with previous formulations of similar concept.

Module II (Public Policy and Administration): after successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Critically assess the effectiveness of different models of the state.
  • Analyze policy cycles and explain main contributing factors.
  • Critically analyze scholarly papers  and craft a policy brief.

Teaching methods
  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Case studies /Incidents (traditional, online)
  • Individual assignments
DETAILS
  • Module I (History of Economic Thought). The learning experience of this course consists essentially in the direct confrontation with the original writings of major economists. A brief introduction to each author is provided, following the traditional face-to-face approach, only to recall the historical context in which they developed their ideas. Most of the time, however, is dedicated to read and discuss in class selected readings by the authors. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in interpreting and commenting the texts.
  • Module II (Public Policy and Administration). The lectures are situated in the context of the current debate, at domestic and international level, of how we can organize at best the State and its public administration. The module entails both traditional lectures as well as class discussions about relevant case studies and examples taken from current events. It also involves two structured class discussions of a scholarly paper, one of which associated with a graded take-home assignment. The lectures themselves prepare students for this exercise:
  • They provide theoretical knowledge but also draw directly from course readings, considering critically the research design and methodologies employed by the authors.
  • They encourage student participation by discussing collectively the texts that students are required to read for the module.

Assessment methods
  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  •     x
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  •     x
    ATTENDING STUDENTS
    • Module I (History of Economic Thought): written exam with open-ended questions. Typical questions involve the interpretation of a text from one of the economists discussed in class, the illustration of how the same topic is addressed by different authors, or the comparison between different authors in relation to a specific aspect or issue.
    • Module II (Public Policy and Administration): in order to evaluate the acquisition of the aforementioned learning outcomes, the assessment of attending students comprises two components: 
    1. Written exam (80% of the final grade) using open-ended questions to test both basic knowledge of the course material, the understanding of key concepts discussed in class, and the ability to connect topics and argumentations.
    2. Individual essay assignment (20% of the final grade), a memo of maximum 1.000 words on a scholarly paper on the basis of a set of guiding questions. The scholarly paper and the assignment is then discussed in class. The assignment tests the ability of students to critically assess a scholarly paper and apply the theoretical frameworks learnt in class to the understanding of a specific case. The aim of this assignment is also to improve the skills of students in writing a concise and effective text that could be used for policy advice.
    NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS
    • Module I (History of Economic Thought): written exam with open-ended questions. Typical questions involve the interpretation of a text from one of the economists discussed in class, the illustration of how the same topic is addressed by different authors, or the comparison between different authors in relation to a specific aspect or issue.
    • Module II (Public Policy and Administration): general final exam (100% of the final grade) using open-ended questions to test both basic knowledge of the course material, the understanding of key concepts discussed in the course readings, and the ability to connect different topics and argumentations.

    Teaching materials
    ATTENDING AND NOT ATTENDING STUDENTS
    1. Module I (History of Economic Thought): all compulsory readings are provided through the Bboard.
    2. Module II (Public Policy and Administration): the teaching materials comprise a selection of chapters from different textbooks as well as scholarly articles. These include, among others:
    • C. HOOD, The art of the State.
    • C.R. SUNSTEIN, The ethics of influence.
    • The course literature is accessible for students through Bboard and Course Reserves.
    Last change 11/06/2018 08:56