I DECIDED TO ENTITLE THIS ESSAY ‘TERRA INCOGNITA Australis’ — a rubric appropriate for more than one reason, as will become apparent later — since, the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that what we profess to know concerning the determinants of public policy outcomes has much the same epistemological status as the shapes that appeared in the Southern Hemisphere of sixteenth-century cartographers. The objective of the essay is to substantiate this charge in respect of the prevailing explanatory parad’ ms which inform as to the best way to proceed to give some more definition to the map in future. The charge is a serious one insofar as comparative public policy analysis is currently a boom area in political science. I could be accused of attempting to create a ghost town before the shafts are driven deep enough to hit ‘pay dirt’, but I can only claim that this is not my intention. I have been working in the area which is currently described as comparative public policy for more than a decade now and the explanatory paradigms I criticize are ones to which I have variously subscribed over the years. Since I believe that there is valuable ore to be found, and found in roughly the area in which we are looking for it, I would argue that criticism and redefinition of paradigms are useful tasks, since they improve our eventual chances of hitting a lode-bearing seam.