Consumer policy : a network/political economy perspective : an application of the new macro-relational consumer policy framework to study the evolutionary dynamics of the policy community for the Electronic Fund Transfer System (EFTS) consumer issue in Canada
This thesis argued that-sole reliance by government on the micro-economic paradigm. as the rationale for intervening in the marketplace results in too narrow an approach to consumer policy and a lack of appreciation for the dynamic and relational aspects of the consumer policy process. An integration of select constructs from the political economy and network paradigms contributed to the development of a macro-relational consumer policy framework. The network approach provides a relational perspective while the political economy paradigm provides a macro approach to widening consumer policy theory. Together, they offer a macro-relational perspective to compliment the micro-economic approach. The investigator suggests that the computerization of the Canadian payment system represents a change in the technological sphere of the macro policy environment. This change challenges the marketplace interests of the consumer policy network constituents (secondary policy environment). The stakeholders affected by this change coalesce into a policy community to balance respective interests. This primary policy environment, evolutionary in nature (internal policy activity, then dyadic, multidyadic, and triadic), will exhibit varying patterns of stakeholder interaction, relationship development and network dynamics. Propositions developed, to explain the evolutionary dynamics of the policy community guided the content analysis, the case study and the network analysis. Relational data (matrices and graphs) profiled the chronological maps of the relationships of the aggregate, constituent and dyadic sets of stakeholders. A multi-layered network analysis revealed an evolutionary process and a policy community which varied on several interaction dimensions (frequency, directedness, durability, role perception, intensity) and network dimensions (size, density, connectedness, cohesiveness, knittedness, stability). To mirror parallel initiatives in complimentary disciplines, stakeholders and future macro-relational consumer policy researchers are challenged to embrace the powerful network/political economy perspective to profit from stimulating theoretical and pragmatic insights into the complex, dynamic consumer policy process.