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Moral Foundations of Welfare Attitudes: The Role of Moral Intuition and Reasoning in Pursuing Social Justice

Abstract

The article interconnects the research on welfare attitudes and welfare chauvinism with moral psychology in order to develop an interdisciplinary analytical approach designed for studying attitudes to welfare policies and potentially overcoming the divisions prevalent in many European democracies. It introduces Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) - an empirical approach to analysing intuitions, reasoning, and emotions constituting moral judgment - and outlines its understanding of competing versions of fairness and distributive justice. The potential contributions of MFT are exemplified on a case study situated in contemporary Slovakia which deals with two conflicting conceptions of fairness, as equity and as equality, embodied in the diverging attitudes towards an amendment to the Act on the Assistance in Material Need (2013). The article argues that MFT and related research programmes are irreplaceable components in an interdisciplinary study of the plurality of welfare policy attitudes. It also highlights the transformative potential of MFT and related research programmes in devising interventions aimed at changing (political) attitudes to welfare and reducing their polarisation.

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An Overview of Discourses on Knowledge in Policy: Thinking Knowledge, Policy and Conflict Together

Abstract

Around the world, there is a growing interest among policy scholars and practitioners in the role of knowledge in relation to public policy. These debates are accompanied by some confusion about what is meant by knowledge or evidence, as well as controversies around the role of scientists and suspicions of increasingly technocratic decision making. Our aim is to provide a useful overview of the major debates in this paper, and to trace six dominant discourses in current research that address the role of scientific knowledge or expertise in the policy process. We distinguish evidence-based policy making, knowledge utilisation, policy learning, knowledge transfer, social construction of knowledge and boundaries, and knowing in practice as separate discourses. We show how they differ in their understanding of knowledge, of the problem to solve in terms of the role of knowledge in policy, of practical implications, as well as in their understanding of public policy and in their ontologies and epistemologies. A condensed and structured representation serves as a basis for conducting comparisons across discourses as well as to open ways for analysis of strategic associations between the discourses. We hope to contribute to extending the discussion of knowledge in policy into the realm of epistemic politics and we suggest several avenues for future research that can draw on a range of concepts from across all of the discourses.

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Policy Effects on the Quality of Public Health Care: Evaluating Portuguese Public Hospitals’ Quality through Customers’ Views

Abstract

In this paper, public health care administration issues are reviewed and public hospital patients’ views on quality of health care are empirically tested. The purpose is to support the recommendation of new public policies that lead to better performance, if necessary. Hospital patients’ views on service quality were assessed through a questionnaire to estimate a global customer satisfaction measure. We argue that customer satisfaction should be measured through multiple indicators, as a latent variable. Thus, we considered the latent segment models (LSM) approach to assess customer service satisfaction. We found a twosegment latent structure: segment 1, the satisfied, with 48 percent of patients, mostly male and middle-aged patients; and segment 2, the unsatisfied, with 52 percent of patients, mostly female and youngest/oldest patients.

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Providing Public Sport Facilities in Post-Socialist Times: The Case of the Czech Republic

Abstract

The paper aims to investigate current approaches to the management of public sport facilities by local governments. In the Czech Republic, local clubs traditionally played a key role in providing sport to the public. With decreasing participation in organized sport, a significant number of clubs have been forced to transfer their facilities to local governments and the sport position of local authorities has strengthened considerably in recent years. In consequence, there have been alterations in the management of public sport facilities. The findings of statistical analysis emphasize an increasing role of specialized organizations at the expense of in-house management or external provision (facilities hired out to sport clubs). Moreover, local population and type of facility were found to be the possible reasons for different approaches. In-house management is associated with smaller municipalities whereas most of their facilities have the character of public goods. In contrast, publicly funded organizations and municipal enterprises appear in municipalities with larger populations providing sport facilities of regional importance in the form of mixed goods. Finally, clubs, as representatives of external provision, mostly provide sport facilities primarily intended for their own purposes - club goods. In the context of recent works and contemporary trends in sport participation, the research findings indicate that different forms of management may have significant effects not only on efficiency of public budgets but also on conditions for sport at local level - especially on targeting those who would participate in sport if they had access to new opportunities or leisure programs.

Open access
Response of Central European Civil Security Systems to the Economic Crisis

Abstract

The public sector across Europe and elsewhere was affected by the economic crisis which fully unfolded in 2008. Considerable attention has been paid in the literature to the impacts of related budgetary cuts on social welfare, while some other areas remain largely under-researched. One of such areas is the so-called civil security, where no such endeavour has been attempted so far. In order to fill this gap, the paper examines the civil security systems of Central European countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary), employing a qualitative comparative analysis. Taking on the systems perspective, the article inquires how the stress posed by the economic crisis affected the civil security systems - their structure and financing. The paper builds on the findings from a 7th FP project, “ANVIL”, within which data on civil protection and disaster management systems were collected.

Open access
What Do Diploma Theses Unveil about Academic Public Policy in the Czech Republic?

Abstract

Although textbooks, conference papers, scientific journals and monographs deal with the research aspects of public policy, only little attention is paid to the way it is taught at universities. In this article we aim to explore academic public policy in the Czech Republic - specifically in terms of teaching outputs - using a unique method: an analysis of diploma theses. In the sample there were diploma theses defended within all the full-time Master’s study programmes having “public policy” in their names in the Czech Republic between 1995 and 2013. We conclude that there are two traditions of academic public policy in the Czech Republic, which enriches previous findings in the area and makes them more accurate. The research design and thoroughly described methodology invite other researchers to conduct international comparison of the features of academic public policy. The findings may also illustrate the trajectory made by the newly established discipline of public policy in the past twenty years in the Czech Republic, which may be of great interest to the newly formed international public policy community.

Open access
Czech pension reform: how to reconcile equivalence with fiscal discipline

Abstract

One of the recent changes in the Czech Republic’s pension system was provoked by a petition to the Constitutional Court. The setting of bend points for determining the amount of pensions depending on the insured person’s previous earnings was contested as discrimination against higher income categories. The Constitutional Court granted the petition. The result was an approval and implementation of an amendment to Act No. 155/1995 Coll., on Pension Insurance, that for the purposes of calculating the level of old-age pensions favoured the highest income decile at the expense of most other insured persons, namely those with middle incomes. Simultaneously, the political criterion of fiscal discipline was applied to ensure the financial sustainability of the pension system. In analysing this case, we critically adopt the theory of actor-centred institutionalism and the theory of the policy cycle. From the nature of the analysed case it follows that we pay attention mainly to the legislative process which resulted in the amendment. Our methodology is dominated by analysis of documents (legal norms, court decisions, political programmes, official publications) and political and administrative communication (including debates on legislative drafts in the executive and legislature).

Open access
Czech Study of Public Policy in the Perspective of Three Dominant Approaches

Abstract

The Velvet Revolution in 1989 did not represent only a fundamental change of the political regime, but also the beginnings of contemporary Czech study of public policy and policy expertise. This article aims to present its significant institutional aspects on the basis of a systematic analysis drawing on deLeon, Trent and Stein’s models of (sub)discipline development. It assumes that the development of a field of study is driven by the interaction between its inner dynamics and the surrounding environment (society, state and international academic community). The article identifies three dominant approaches in the configuration of the Czech field - Prague public policy, Brno political science and Brno social policy - and it focuses on their supporting infrastructure, frames of reference and contacts with the international academic community. Finally, it outlines the study’s development stages, revealing that Czech study of public has been quickly catching up with its Western counterparts.

Open access
Dropout Policy in Czech Higher Education: Can Universities Serve Several Masters?

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore the way higher education institutions adapt to environmental pressures. These pressures can be represented either by various demands or by specific policies. Dropout policy is examined on a Czech case study in order to demonstrate that at the end of the day, higher education institutions respond mainly to the most pressing challenges of an economic nature in the most rational way. As a result, their traditional mission (teaching, research, the third mission), and mainly the social function of the higher education system, may be at stake. At the same time, this study illustrates how difficult it is to introduce any higher education policy without thorough evaluation of other policies in place and of various factors affecting institutional behaviour.

Open access
E-government Policy and its Implementation in the Czech Republic: Selected Shortcomings

Abstract

The paper summarizes the specifics and challenges of e-government policy, and then discusses the apparent shortcomings of policy implementation and challenges for further development in the Czech Republic. It draws attention to problems in national e-government policy and in practical policy implementation (instability of governance, low quality of evaluation, low involvement of stakeholders in project design, and public procurement issues).

Open access