Peter B. Mortensen

Aarhus University
Department of Political Science

Bartholins Alle 7
Aarhus C, Aarhus
DK-8000 |  Visit Personal Website

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I am currently working on local government agenda setting, but I'm still interested in more general agenda-setting processes, political parties' issue competition and in the policy/spending effects of agenda-setting changes.

Jensen, Jens L., Søren Serritzlew and Peter B. Mortensen (2016). "The Dynamic Model of Choice of Public Policy Reconsidered: A Formal Analysis with an Application to U.S. Budget Data", Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 26, 2, 226-238.
Abstract: It has been shown empirically across countries and political systems, and for different levels of government, that the distribution of budget changes follows a non-Gaussian distribution, a power function. This implies that budgets are very stable, yet occasionally are punctuated by very large changes. To explain this strong empirical generalization, Jones and Baumgartner (2005a) developed the Dynamic Model of Choice for Public Policy, which today is the dominant explanation of stability and change in public budgets. Based on formal analysis, this article investigates the implications and scope conditions of this model. Furthermore, using US budget data, the article reveals aspects of the model that do not closely fit the empirical pattern. The article concludes with an examination of three model revisions that may improve the fit between the model and the empirical distributions of budget decisions.
DOI: 10.1093/jopart/muv007
Peter B. Mortensen and Christoffer Green-Pedersen (2015). "Institutional Effects of Changes in Political Attention", Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 25, 1, 165-189.
Abstract: All democratic countries have ministries for issues like foreign affairs, defense, transportation, education, and social affairs. Yet, we know little about what determines the number and issue content of ministries. Why do some policy issues have their own ministry while others do not and when are new ministries created? The article offers a theoretical argument for how creation and termination of ministries may be patterned from a policy agenda setting perspective that focuses on the importance of changes in political attention. The basic claim is that such changes in attention in combination with the issue preferences of the incumbent government are crucial for understanding significant changes in the ministerial structure. In a broader perspective, the article attempts to bring the literature on agenda dynamics into the study of bureaucratic structure in order to better understand organizational changes in the top bureaucracy.
DOI: 10.1093/jopart/muu030
Peter B. Mortensen and Henrik Bech Seeberg (2016). "Why Are Some Policy Agendas Larger than Others?", Policy Studies Journal, 44, 2, 156-175.
Abstract: Most research on policy agendas is based on the assumption that space on the agenda is fixed and, hence, focuses on how problems compete for this limited agenda space. This article holds that policy agendas may be limited but not fixed, meaning that problems may not always be traded off but confronted through a larger policy agenda. Based on an extensive collection of local council agendas from 98 Danish municipalities over time, this article investigates variations in agenda size across local governments and examines the extent to which this reflects the local problem environment. The analysis reveals that a large council agenda arises in response to an unfriendly problem environment, particularly if there are many committees to channel problems onto the agenda and, to a lesser extent, if center-left parties hold office.
DOI: 10.1111/psj.12134

Substantive Focus:
Comparative Public Policy PRIMARY
Urban Public Policy SECONDARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Process Theory SECONDARY
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation PRIMARY