An investigation of the Children's Bill Working Group's networking and advocacy around the Children's Bill between 2003-2004.
This study reviewed how networks, entrepreneurs and narratives were intertwined in keeping a policy process moving and preventing it from stagnating. By applying Roe's narrative analysis theory (as developed in Narrative Policy Analysis - 1994), along with Kingdon's theory of entrepreneurs (as developed in Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies - 1995) and Kickert's explanations of networks (as developed in Managing Complex Networks - 1997) the study attempted to uncover how a complex policy issue is managed by the stakeholders involved. The Children's Bill was the case study used to show the usefulness of these three theories in understanding the intricate engagements and relations of participation around a complex policy. By applying qualitative data collection and analysis techniques, the case study illustrated how a complex policy is able to move through the policy and legislative processes despite the conflict and difficulties encountered. The dominant narratives were identified, the narrative of the Working Group (WG) (to hold the Bill over to the next parliament and to include a National Policy Framework), and the counternarrative of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (to fast track the Bill through parliament and to make excisions), as were the non-stories (on issues of poverty). The research also identifies the policy entrepreneurs (the WG secretariat and in particular the Children's Institute and Paula Proudlock) and the networks in which they operated. This information provided the basis to identify the meta-narrative to hold the Bill over to the next parliament for further deliberations on the excisions that had been made, which allowed the Children's Bill process to continue. Some recommendations for further evaluation and research into this policy process are noted.