Nowlin, Matthew C. 2011. “Theories of the Policy Process: State of the Research and Emerging Trends.” Policy Studies Journal, 39(s1): 41–60, doi:


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.

Excerpted in: Theodoulou, Stella Z., and Matthew A. Cahn (eds). 2013. Public Policy: The Essential Readings. 2nd Edition. Pearson: New York, NY. pgs. 190–195.

Matthew C. Nowlin
Associate Professor of Political Science