Analysing policy variation in local government : an empirical study of social policies in Korean local government
This thesis explores policy variation in local government. 'Me main purpose of the research is twofold; to examine the methodological issues in the analysis of policy variation in local government; and to further our understanding of Korean local government, which has been undergoing sweeping changes in recent years. In the first half of this thesis the distinction between output and process approaches is examined and reformulated in theoretical and methodological terms. Output studies are reclassified into four modes of explanation: socioeconomic analysis, political studies, urban hierarchy theory and incrementalism. A general model based on British literature is established for a process approach consisting of three dimensions: political leadership, administrative process and social inputs. The second half of the study examines local social policy-making in Korea with the aim of assessing the working of the newly-launched Korean local government system. A two-stage method is developed in the research design. In the first stage, an output analysis is carried out in order to identify how the outputs of local social policies vary and to what extent this variation is related to policy environments. In the second stage, the dynamics of the policy process are explored using a case study approach. This shows HOW political factors are associated with policy variation in local government. This study indicates in theory how the research question itself has predetermined not only the methods but also the findings of empirical studies. In the methodological dimension, six differences are noted between the output and process approaches. This study concludes by calling for more attention to innovation in the management side of Korean local government.