Has Simeon's vision prevailed among Canadian policy scholars?

Éric Montpetit, Christine Rothmayr Allison, Isabelle Engeli

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Concerned by the proliferation of idiosyncratic prescriptive case studies in the nascent subfield of policy studies, Richard Simeon, in his seminal 1976 article, asked scholars to produce more comparative policy research that aimed at explaining general events and contributing to theory building. The extent to which Simeon's vision materialized remains debated. With a view to informing this debate, we conducted a systematic content analysis of the articles published in five major generalist public policy journals from 1980 to 2015. The analysis reveals that Canadian policy scholars took a comparative turn, publishing more territorial, sector and time comparisons than in the past. We also found evidence that theoretical knowledge accumulation is more important today for Canadian authors than it was when Simeon wrote his article.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-785
Number of pages23
JournalCanadian Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Comparative Turn
  • Comparative Public Policy
  • Research Methods


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