The Politics of Non-Proportionate Policy Responses: An INOGOV Action Conference

We are seeking both conceptual and empirical papers that revolve around the following questions in a wide range of policy areas, including climate change, environmental protection, energy, transport, consumer protection, security affairs and public health

University of Warsaw, 29th March – 2nd April 2015

Organisers: Moshe Maor and Jale Tosun

The punctuated equilibrium theory suggests that policy responses will oscillate between periods of underreaction to the flow of information coming from the environment into the system and overreaction to it due to disproportionate information processing (Jones and Baumgartner 2005). The aim of this workshop is to take this promising research agenda further by focusing on the dynamics of overreaction and underreaction in enacting policy solutions, and on the varieties of policy over- and underreaction. The workshop also revolves around the life-cycles of longer-term over- and underreaction which are propelled by self-reinforcing processes, as well as around the analytical reach of concepts which aim at capturing these phenomena, namely policy bubbles and policy anti-bubbles.


This emerging subfield of public policy is inspired by the work of the 2013 Nobel laureate Robert Shiller on financial bubbles (e.g., Shiller 2005); Bryan Jones and co-authors’ work on policy bubbles (Jones and Wolfe 2010; Jones, Thomas and Wolfe 2014); Robert Cox and Daniel Béland’s (2013) study of the emotional qualities of policy ideas, and Moshe Maor’s conceptual works on policy overreaction (2012), policy underreaction (2014a), policy bubbles (2013) and policy anti-bubbles (2014b).

We are seeking both conceptual and empirical papers that revolve around the following questions in a wide range of policy areas, including climate change, environmental protection, energy, transport, consumer protection, security affairs and public health:


·       To what extent are cost-benefit analyses, subjective evaluations, analysis of indicators of policy problems and investment level by government (Jones, Thomas and Wolfe 2014), and international benchmarking of countries’ policies (Tosun 2013a, 2013b, 2013c), able to capture the extent of non-proportionate policy response?

·       How cognitive, emotional, organizational, and institutional factors interact to explain non-proportionate policy responses?

·       How the state of emotion towards a particular policy changes over time, and what is the extent to which such changes impact upon the supply of the policy?

·       What is the role of the media in the emergence of non-proportionate policy responses?

·       What are the differences between processes of ideational and emotional contagion that generate non-proportionate policy response and those that do not?

·       What are the relations between policy overreaction and underreaction?

·       How members of the public make judgments about non-proportionate policy responses?

·       To what extent do policymakers learn from non-proportionate policy responses?

·       What are the consequences of non-proportionate policy responses in terms of policy outcomes and the penalty imposed on policymakers by the general public?

·       Could non-proportionate policy responses be policy successes (Jordan and Huitema 2014)?

·       Why do some bubbles and anti-bubbles deflate on their own while others continue to grow?

·       Are there specific measures that governments could take to respond to bubbles and anti-bubbles and restrict their potential damage?

Our aim is to stimulate a seminal discussion across a wide range of sub-disciplines in political science, such as, political science, public policy, public administration, political psychology, political sociology, political economy, political geography, and behavioural public policy. We hope that the papers presented at the workshop will shed light on the interaction between self-reinforcing processes and the contagion of ideas and emotions which reinforces the confidence of the general public and/or policymakers in the policy, or its lack thereof; the ways media attention and policymaking activities become intertwined in self-reinforcing processes; the ways policy bubbles and policy anti-bubbles are identified, and the role of symbolic and ideological factors in processes by which policies come to be overvalued or devalued. We are fully aware that policy overreaction and underreaction are largely subjective terms, but we want to discuss ways of addressing them in an analytically rigorous way.



The workshop will be partly funded under the 4 year COST Action INOGOV (IS1309 Innovations in Climate Governance: Sources, Patterns and Effects) (2014-8). INOGOV will cover reasonable travel costs and accommodation of all invited authors, subject to standard COST reimbursement and eligibility rules. Participants eligible for funding must address the issue of policy bubbles and anti-bubbles in the context of climate policy and/or governance.

INOGOV has already published two special issues, in Environmental Politics (2014, Vol. 23 (5)) and Global Environmental Change (2015, in press).


Application deadline

The deadline for paper proposals (of about 250 words) is 1 December 2014. Proposals must be submitted through the form available on the ECPR website:

Please note that paper proposals sent directly to the workshop directors cannot be considered. For queries, please email Jale Tosun at

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