Brian J. Cook

Virginia Tech
Center for Public Administration & Policy

1021 Prince St.
Alexandria, VA

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Through the lens of policy design theory, combined with the application of the Institutional Grammar Tool, I am studying the design and implementation of chemical disclosure requirements and trade secret protections in the fracking regulations of U.S. states. The longer term project is to expand this investigation to a cross-national analysis of fracking regulations, and other environmental, health, and safety regulation.

Cook, Brian J. 2010. “Arenas of Power and New Policy Theory: Toward a Synthesis.” Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, DC.
Abstract: Do different policy designs generate their own distinctive patterns of politics and power relations? That question has been one source of debate in the scholarship on the politics of policy making that has developed over the course of more than four decades. The progenitor of this line of inquiry is, of course, Theodore Lowi’s “arenas of power” idea. The scholarly literature on arenas of power, or policy typologies, that followed Lowi’s initial conception and his own refinements is considerable. Several conceptual approaches have supplanted the policy typology paradigm, including punctuated equilibrium theory, the advocacy coalition framework, and the social construction of policy targets. In light of these new and apparently more powerful approaches for understanding the policy-politics nexus, does the arenas of power idea remain viable? This paper investigates that question by re-examining the origin of the typology approach and by exploring it’s commonalities with the newer frameworks. I argue that Lowi’s original thinking had already captured some of the insights contained in the newer frameworks, and that a synthesis of the arenas of power approach with one or more of the newer approaches can advance policy theory. I explore the potential for, and the obstacles to, such a synthesis.
Cook, Brian J. 2010. "Arenas of Power in Climate Change Policy Making.” Policy Studies Journal 38 (3):465-486.
Abstract: This article investigates the potential linkage between particular policy design ideas and distinctive patterns of politics and power relations. The research examines a sequence of four cases involving the use of the cap-and-trade policy design principally to combat global climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Through the lens of arenas of power framework, the comparative case analysis suggests the existence of consistent linkages between particular cap-and-trade design ideas, and distinct patterns of political conflict and empowerment. The article concludes with a brief consideration of what the findings suggest about the national politics of climate change policymaking in the United States in the near term, and more important, an assessment of the implications for the further development and refinement of policy theory.
DOI: 0190-292X

Substantive Focus:
Environmental Policy PRIMARY
Governance SECONDARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy History SECONDARY
Policy Process Theory PRIMARY