Policy analysis is a relatively new area of social scientific inquiry, owing its origins to developments in the US in the early 1960s. Its main rationale is systematic, evidence-based, transparent, efficient, and implementable policymaking. This component of policymaking is deemed key in democratic structures allowing for accountable public policies. From the US, policy analysis has spread to other countries, notably in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s and in Asia in the 1990s and 2000s. It has taken, respectively one to two more decades for programmes of public policy to be established in these regions preparing cadres for policy analysis as a profession. However, this movement has been accompanied by variations in the kinds of analysis undertaken as US-inspired analytical and evaluative techniques have been adapted to local traditions and circumstances, and new techniques shaped in these settings.
In the late 1990s this led to the development of the field of comparative policy analysis, pioneered by Iris Geva-May, who initiated and founded the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, and whose mission has been advanced with the support of editorial board members such as Laurence E. Lynn Jr., first co-editor, Peter deLeon, Duncan McRae, David Weimer, Beryl Radin, Frans van Nispen, Yukio Adachi, Claudia Scott, Allan Maslove and others in the US and elsewhere. While current studies have underlined differences and similarities in national approaches to policy analysis, the different national regimes which have developed over the past two to three decades have not been thoroughly explored and systematically evaluated in their entirety, examining both sub-national and nonexecutive governmental organisations as well as the non-governmental sector; nor have these prior studies allowed for either a longitudinal or a latitudinal comparison of similar policy analysis perceptions, applications, and themes across countries and time periods.
The International Library for Policy Analysis (ILPA) series fills this gap in the literature and empirics of the subject. It features edited volumes created by experts in each country, which inventory and analyse their respective policy analysis systems. To a certain extent the series replicates the template of Policy Analysis in Canada edited by Dobuzinskis, Howlett and Laycock (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007).